Asia

Thai PM Prayut says he’s preparing to lift emergency measures amid protests

BANGKOK: Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Wednesday (Oct 21) he was preparing to lift emergency measures imposed last week to stop protests in Bangkok and that disputes should be settled in parliament.

The emergency measures from last Thursday prompted demonstrations by tens of thousands of people, the biggest in three months of rallies to demand Prayuth's removal and reforms to curb the powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

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"I will make the first move to de-escalate this situation. I am currently preparing to lift the state of severe emergency in Bangkok and will do so promptly if there are no violent incidents," he said in an address to the nation.

The measures had banned political gatherings of five or more people and the publication of information deemed to threaten security.

Riot police stand guard behind barbed wire as protesters march during an anti-government rally in Bangkok on Oct 21, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Mladen Antonov)

"We must now step back from the edge of the slippery slope that can easily slide to chaos," Prayut added

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The protests have become the biggest challenge to Thailand's establishment in years and have drawn the most open opposition to the monarchy in decades despite lese majeste laws setting jail terms of up to 15 years for insulting royalty.

As Prayut spoke, tens of thousands of protesters marched towards his office at Government House to demand his resignation as well as the lifting of the emergency measures and release of dozens of activists arrested in a crackdown.

"RESIGN"

"It's not enough. He must resign," said Too, 54, one of the marchers.

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Protesters say Prayut engineered an election last year to keep hold of power he seized in a 2014 coup. He says the election was fair.

The other demands of protesters are for a new constitution and for reforms to a monarch they say has enabled years of military domination.

A government supporter (centre) attempts to stop a march by pro-democracy protesters during an anti-government rally in Bangkok on Oct 21, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Mladen Antonov)

One Thai protest leader, Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, said that Prayut must resign despite the lifting of emergency measures

Tattep told Reuters that other demands of protesters could be discussed in parliament.

"Prayut must resign first and that is the easiest thing to do," he said.

The palace has a policy of making no comment to media.

In his speech, Prayut said disputes should be resolved in parliament. His supporters are inRead More – Source