Thai officials call for emergency decree over Bangkok protests

Thai officials call for emergency decree over Bangkok protests
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The Thai government has issued an emergency decree as protesters in Bangkok call for the prime minister’s resignation.

Demonstrators have called for the ousting of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the military junta that ruled the country from 2014 to 2019. Protesters are also seeking a new constitution and reforms to King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s monarchy, Reuters reported.

“As it appears that many groups of people have invited and incited illegal public assemblies in Bangkok ... acted to affect the royal motorcade and committed severe actions that affected national security ... it is extremely necessary to introduce an urgent measure to end this situation effectively and promptly to maintain peace and order,” officials said through an announcement on state television.

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Thousands of demonstrators assembled Wednesday, according to the Guardian, although a crowd of pro-monarchy counterprotesters assembled as the king’s motorcade passed on the way to a Buddhist Lent ceremony.

Protesters believe the current Thai constitution has allowed Prayuth to keep power after the disputed 2019 election, the first since he was installed.

“I think we have to reform monarchy and get the institution to be under the constitution. Or we can go [to the] France model,” a 19-year-old demonstrator who asked not to be named told the newspaper. “The monarchy spends a huge amount of tax money, too. I think politics and the monarchy are closely linked. Even if we amend the charter, the king can still intervene. So I think [reform of] the monarchy and politics should be done concurrently.”