| 25 May 2024, Saturday |

Thai activists push for PM to quit as confidence vote looms

On the last day of a parliamentary censure discussion, MPs grilled Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and five ministers over their handling of a coronavirus crisis, prompting further antigovernmental protests on Friday.

After conducting one of the year’s largest rallies on Thursday at the Asoke crossroads in central Bangkok, activists vowed to demonstrate every day until Prayuth left power, violating a prohibition on large meetings imposed to suppress a COVID-19 outbreak.

“We will use Asoke as a fort to hold activities against Prayuth every day,” said a protest organiser, Sombat Boonngamanong.

“We will do this every day until Prayuth resigns,” he said.

The protests have gathered steam since late June as university students who sought Prayuth’s removal last year return with broader support from other political groups and people angered by a worsening coronavirus situation.

The overwhelming majority of Thailand’s 1.24 million cases and 12,374 deaths came after April, following a year of successful containment. It has since been hit by the Alpha and Delta variants and has struggled to get hold of enough vaccines.

More than 600 people face protest-related charges for various violations in July and August, police said on Friday.

A big rally is planned for Saturday, when a confidence vote is scheduled in parliament, which is expected to go Prayuth’s way because of his coalition’s clear majority.

Former Army Chief and coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha and his ministers have dismissed claims of corruption, economic mismanagement, and a botched coronavirus response leveled by the opposition.

Prayuth declared on Friday that he will not retire or call an election in the near future.

He told reporters, “The country has to move forward.”

“I’ll keep moving forward as long as the people want me.”

  • Reuters