06/24/2021, 16.02
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Hundreds take to Bangkok streets to demand Prime Minister Prayuth’s resignation

Today is the anniversary of the Siamese Revolution of 24 June 1932 that ended Thailand’s absolute monarchy. Protesters are calling for constitutional reforms, the removal of the 250 military-appointed parliamentarians, and the prime minister’s ouster. In addition to the capital, rallies were planned in Chiang Mai and the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Hundreds of Thais took advantage of the anniversary of the “Siamese Revolution” of 24 June 1932, a peaceful uprising that ended the country’s absolute monarchy in favour of a constitutional regime, to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

The rally took place this morning under the watchful eye of the police in riot gear, ready to intervene in case of unrest or gatherings.

Protesters  marched through the streets of Bangkok, the Thai capital, shouting three demands: constitutional reforms, the removal of 250 military-appointed Members of Parliament (the military’s insurance card), and the resignation of the prime minister, a former senior army officer.

“Prayuth, get out!” was one of the most popular slogans among the demonstrators, who waved white and red flags, symbol of the peaceful revolution of 1932. 

A year ago tens of thousands of people marched, shaking up the kingdom's establishment, especially with their call to limit the monarchy's powers.

However, in the following months the movement lost momentum, especially this year, as the number of COVID-19 cases rose, reaching almost 230,000 with 1,744 deaths.

In order to contain the protest, the authorities made dozens of arrests and indicted the movement’s leaders on multiple charges, including defamation and lèse-majesté.

“The constitution must come from the people,” protest leader, Jatupat “Pai Daodin” Boonpattararaksa, told the crowd in Bangkok. “In 89 years since the end of absolutism we have not got anywhere,” he added.

Thai police yesterday warned protesters against joining the gatherings due to the coronavirus surge. “Anyone who violates the laws during protests will have legal actions taken against them,” said Bangkok Metropolitan Police Commissioner Pakapong Pongpetra.

Prayuth is blamed for the government’s poor handling of the worsening economic crisis and its failure to tackle the health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the failure to revive the democratic process after the military coup that brought him to power in 2014.

A pro-military constitution and a parliament appointed by the Armed Forces allowed the prime minister to remain in office following disputed elections two years ago.

In addition to Bangkok, protests were planned in the northern tourist resort town of Chiang Mai and the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat.

For Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University and director of the Institute of Security and International Studies, “public pressure is palpable, mounting, and people want answers”. Yet, he added, with the military and monarchy still behind Prayuth, it is difficult to see how he could be removed.

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