Thousands of Protestors on Thursday gathered in Thailand’s capital to call for the resignation of the Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, and the protestors vowed to protest until he leaves office.
Despite a warning from the police earlier banning protests due to covid-19 restrictions, Thursday’s demonstration at Asoke intersection in Central Bangkok was one of the biggest gatherings this year.
The protests against Prayuth have gained momentum since June last year as university students who sought his removal last year and over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Thailand has recorded more than 1.2 million cases and 12,103 deaths came after April, following a year of successful containment. The country has also been hit by the Alpha and Delta variant of the virus and has struggled to get hold of enough vaccines.
The demonstration is also taking place while Prime Minister Prayuth is being grilled in the parliament for corruption charges, economic mismanagement and over the inefficient coronavirus response. Former army Chief and 2014 coup leader Prayuth and his ministers have denied the accusations and defended their performance to the parliament. Prayuth on Friday said he will neither resign nor call for an early election.
A confidence vote is scheduled for Saturday, and a big rally is planned on the same day. It is expected that the vote would go Prayuth’s way due to the ruling coalition’s clear parliamentary majority, but the protesters say they will keep up the pressure on Prayuth.
“The members of parliament have to choose between the people and Prayuth who has failed, causing losses and deaths of more than 10,000 people,” said Nattawut Saikua, one of the main organisers of the protest.
“If Prayuth passes the no-confidence vote and remains prime minister we will continue to drive him out,” he said.
While the demonstration at Asoke was peaceful, a smaller group of anti-government protesters set off fire crackers and burn car tires on Thursday near the prime minister’s residence in another part of the city.