Thailand’s Prayuth won’t resign, protesters vow extra rallies | Thailand
The resignation of the Prime Minister is an important protest demand alongside reform of the country’s powerful monarchy.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Friday that he would not resign as anti-government protesters vowed to continue their rallies despite a ban on demonstrations under new emergency measures.
Prayuth held a cabinet meeting Friday morning after tens of thousands of people overcrowded central Bangkok on Thursday evening, even after protests were banned. They said they would continue their demonstrations on Friday.
The Prime Minister said the government would not hesitate to use its new powers.
“I’m not quitting,” he said. “The government must apply the emergency decree. We have to move on because the situation has become violent … it is used for 30 days or less when the situation eases. “
The student-led demonstrations began in July and were aimed not only at Prayuth, leader of the 2014 military coup, but also at King Maha Vajiralongkorn. This was the greatest challenge in years for an establishment that had long been dominated by the army and palace.
The government issued an emergency decree on Thursday giving the authorities the power to arrest demonstrators without an arrest warrant and also to confiscate “electronic communications devices, data and weapons”. Online messages that “threaten national security” are also prohibited.
Despite the announcement, tens of thousands of Thais gathered in Bangkok’s shopping malls and luxury hotels on Thursday evening to continue their struggle for reform.
Prayuth said the emergency statement was necessary because of “violence” and an “unprecedented incident” during the rallies earlier this week.
On Wednesday, widespread videos on social media showed Queen Suthida and Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti sitting in the yellow car as it – surrounded by police – moved through crowds holding up their arms in three-finger salutes and shouting their demands .
Thailand’s Queen Suthida and Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti in a royal motorcade while anti-government protesters (behind) hold up the three-finger salute. Two men were charged with the incident [Teera Noisakaran/AFP]Police said Friday that two men would be charged with attempted violence against the queen as a result of the incident.
Section 110 of the Thai Criminal Code imposes a life sentence of 16 years on anyone convicted of violence or attempted violence against the Queen, the apparent heir or regent, with a death sentence if the act is likely to endanger their lives.
There was no indication in the videos that the queen was injured and she later performed her palace duties in a temple.