Thai protesters give ultimatum to PM three days to resign.
Protest leaders in Thailand have issued an ultimatum to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha — step down or face another flood of people in the streets.
“If he doesn’t resign within three days, he will face the people again,” said Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon, addressing a crowd of demonstrators on Wednesday.
She was arrested hours later, joining the growing list of protest leaders who have been detained in recent weeks.
Bangkok saw the eighth straight day of demonstrations on Wednesday. Police say tens of thousands of people marched to the prime minister’s office. Organizers say the figure was closer to 50,000.
In a televised address on Wednesday, Prayut said he’s ready to lift a week-old emergency decree for the capital if there’s no violence.
The measure bans gatherings of five or more people.
“The only way to a lasting solution for all sides is to discuss and resolve these differences through the parliamentary process,” he said.
An extraordinary session of parliament will be held on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the demonstrations, Prayut said.
While Wednesday’s protests were largely peaceful, there were isolated scuffles with royalists who staged counter-demonstrations. Similar rallies were also held in several other provinces to show support for the royal family.
The roots of the current protests date back at least six years.
Prayut is a former army chief who came to power in a 2014 coup.
He was appointed prime minister by an unelected, military-dominated legislative assembly the following month.
After the Thai people went to the polls five years later, the National Assembly elected him prime minister. Even though his party failed to win the most seats, he was able to secure enough support thanks to the military-controlled Senate.
This year, the country’s economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. That has made the gap between rich and poor even wider.
But the royal family’s assets are estimated at tens of billions of dollars, and the king is said to spend most of his time abroad. That has led to growing frustration among everyday people, and calls for reform despite the country’s law against criticizing the monarchy.nhk