Thai protesters’ deadline passes, but PM says he won’t quit

Published October 25, 2020
Pro-democracy activists display a placard with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's head attached to a cockroach during a protest outside remand prison, in which some of the activists are kept, in Bangkok, Thailand on Oct 23. — AP
Pro-democracy activists display a placard with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's head attached to a cockroach during a protest outside remand prison, in which some of the activists are kept, in Bangkok, Thailand on Oct 23. — AP

BANGKOK: Thailand’s government and the country’s pro-democracy movement appeared no closer to resolving their differences on Saturday, as the protesters’ deadline for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to step down came and went with no new action from either side, and no backing down.

After the 10pm deadline passed, protesters called another rally for central Bangkok on Sunday, at a major intersection in the capital’s main shopping district where they have gathered before.

Prayuth told supporters on Saturday evening as he left a Buddhist temple where a prayer session was held for national peace and prosperity that he would not quit.

The government is sincere in solving the problem and committed to following the law in doing so, he told reporters.

Prayuth's office had issued a statement earlier in the day repeating his plea to resolve differences through Parliament, which will discuss the political situation in a special session starting on Monday.

Although the ongoing political situation comprises many opposing views among different groups, we should rather take this as an opportunity for Thais to consult each other on what is best for the nation, the statement said.

Prayuth this past week issued a call to allow Parliament to seek a solution to the crisis and, in a gesture to appease the protesters, revoked a state of emergency for Bangkok he had imposed a week earlier that made protest rallies illegal.

If all parties are committed to exercise full restraint and flexibility, the circumstances would be more conducive to de-escalating the current tense political conflict and reaching an outcome that is acceptable to all stakeholders, said Saturday’s statement, quoting government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri.

The protesters, however, said they would stick to their deadline for Prayuth to meet their demands that he resign and that their arrested comrades be released from jail. They have shown no enthusiasm for leaving matters in the hands of Parliament.

On Saturday morning, one of the protest leaders, Jatupat Pai Dao Din Boonpattararaksa, had told a crowd outside Bangkok Remand Prison that protesters should gather there and consider their next step as they waited for a response from Prayuth.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2020

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