Thai Protesters Rally Outside Parliament for Premier’s Ouster

Thai Protesters Rally Outside Parliament for Premier’s Ouster

Hundreds of Thai pro-democracy activists rallied outside the nation’s parliament calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha as lawmakers prepared to wrap up a four-day censure debate against the premier and some of his top ministers.

The youth-led protesters held a mock debate, with speakers slamming Prayuth and his government for their “failures” in managing the economy, the education system, gender issues and inequalities. Some opposition lawmakers from Move Forward party also joined the gathering on Friday.

Prayuth and nine of his cabinet ministers have been grilled by opposition lawmakers since Tuesday on issues ranging from its economic measures to its delayed vaccine rollout. While the no-confidence motions are expected to be rejected as parties supporting Prayuth command a majority in the parliament, pro-democracy groups are likely to keep up the pressure on the military-backed government.

“The number of voices out here are more than those in the parliament, so the government has to listen to us,” Tanaporn Wijan, one of the speakers, said on stage. “If you don’t listen, more people will come out to demand the government’s resignation. We don’t have confidence in the government.”

The protest movement -- which has broken long-held taboos about criticizing and questioning the monarchy -- has returned to the streets after a short hiatus following a new wave of coronavirus infections. The activists plan to hold another gathering on Saturday. The protesters are demanding monarchy reform, a rewrite of the constitution, immediate release of leaders detained for royal defamation and Prayuth’s resignation.

Prayuth, a coup leader-turned-premier who has repeatedly rejected calls to resign, earlier this week asked the protesters to “leave the process to the parliament” and said they “shouldn’t create more conflict” when the country is already facing a Covid-19 outbreak.

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