Thai democracy movement vows fresh protests after PM snub

BANGKOK (AFP) – Prominent leaders of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement vowed to return to the streets to protest against Premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha, after their deadline for him to resign was ignored.

The former military chief who staged the 2014 coup is facing pressure from a student-led movement that has organised massive demonstrations for months calling for his resignation.

They regard his hold on power – renewed after last year’s widely disputed elections – as illegitimate and on Wednesday had given him three days to step down.

As the deadline for Prayut to resign by 10pm on Saturday came and went, activist Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa said protesters would turn out in force at a major Bangkok intersection.

“We hear the answer from the Prime Minister to our request,” Pai told a crowd outside Bangkok’s Remand Prison, where protesters had gathered to call for the release of fellow activists.

Pro-democracy protesters gather ahead of an anti-government rally in Bangkok. PHOTO: AFP

“Tomorrow as citizens, we will protest against Prayut at Ratchaprasong.” Prayut remained resolute on Saturday while attending a prayer ceremony for the country at a historic Bangkok temple, saying that “all problems can be resolved” through compromise.

“The government has real intentions to solve problems as long as it’s under the line of laws,” he told reporters, adding that he “won’t quit”.

The movement is largely leaderless though the different groups are united when it comes to their demands for an overhaul to Prayut’s government.

Another group called the People’s Movement announced a march to the German Embassy today in the afternoon.

Prayut had initially imposed emergency measures banning gatherings of more than four, but lifted it a week later when it failed to quell tens of thousands showing up to guerrilla demonstrations across the capital.

A special parliamentary session has been called for today to thrash out ways to reduce tensions.