Thailand’s prime minister said Wednesday he may lift a state of emergency aimed at quelling pro-Democracy demonstrations, but protesters have given the leader a three-day deadline to resign.
“I am currently preparing to lift the state of severe emergency in Bangkok and will do so promptly if there are no violent incidents,” Prayuth Chan-o-cha, who seized power in a 2014 coup, said in an address to the nation Wednesday, without specifying any time-frame.
“We must now step back from the edge of the slippery slope that can easily slide to chaos,” he added.
But protest leaders said Wednesday they would organize fresh rounds of demonstrations if Prayuth does not resign within three days.
Thousands of protesters on Wednesday marched to the Democracy House, the prime minister’s residence, in defiance of a ban on gatherings of more than four people for the sixth day in a row.
Earlier Wednesday, Thai courts reversed a decision to shut down Voice TV — a media outlet partly owned by the family of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Voice TV is one of four media outlets under investigation by the government for their coverage of the protest movement.
Protesters have also called for changes to the monarchy —a seemingly untouchable institution in Thailand, where insulting royalty can result in criminal charges.
But scuffles broke out between protesters and pro-monarchy supporters last week, and crowds Friday were dispersed with water cannons. Demonstrations over the weekend and into Monday were largely peaceful.
The latest wave of protests began in February when the Future Forward Party, a progressive party largely supported by young Thais, was dissolved by court order.
Protests were then halted due to COVID-19 concerns, but regained energy in July, despite a ban on large gatherings.
Voice of America – English