The prime minister’s resignation is a key protest demand, along with reform of the country’s powerful monarchy.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Friday he would not resign, as anti-government protesters promised to continue their rallies despite a ban on demonstrations under new emergency measures.
Prayuth held an emergency cabinet meeting on Friday morning after tens of thousands of people thronged central Bangkok on Thursday night even after the ban on protests. They said they would continue their demonstrations on Friday.
The prime minister said the government would not hesitate to use its new powers.
“I’m not quitting,” he said. “The government must use the emergency decree. We have to proceed because the situation became violent … It is being used for 30 days, or less if the situation eases.”
The student-led demonstrations began in July, directed at not only Prayuth, the leader of the 2014 military coup, but King Maha Vajiralongkorn, in the biggest challenge for years to an establishment long dominated by the army and palace.
The government imposed an emergency decree on Thursday, giving the authorities the power to arrest demonstrators without warrants, and also to seize “electronic communications equipment, data and weapons”. Online messages that “threaten national security” are also banned.
Despite the announcement, tens of thousands of Thais congregated among Bangkok’s shopping malls and luxury hotels on Thursday night to continue their fight for reform.
Prayuth said the emergency declaration was necessary because of “violence” and an “unprecedented incident” during the rallies earlier this week.
Charges over motorcade
On Wednesday, videos shared widely on social media showed Queen Suthida and Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti sitting inside the yellow car as it inched its way – surrounded by police – through crowds of people holding their arms aloft in the three-finger salute and shouting their demands.
Police said on Friday that two men would be charged with attempted violence against the queen as a result of the incident.
Section 110 of the Thai criminal code carries a sentence of 16 years to life imprisonment for anyone found guilty of violence or attempted violence against the queen, heir apparent or regent, with a death sentence if the act is likely to endanger their life.
There was no indication in the videos of the queen being harmed, and she later went on to perform her palace duties at a temple.
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