By Luthien Evans | Political Editor
Protests in Thailand are heating up, with thousands attending. Activists in Bangkok are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chanocha, warning that the action will not cease until he resigns or is removed from power.
Protests have been banned due to the coronavirus restrictions, but despite the rules, August saw one of the biggest protests of the year take place at the Asoka intersection in Bangkok.
The protest was a peaceful demonstration, although a small group of anti-government individuals targeted areas close to the Prime Minister‘s residence, setting off firecrackers and burning car tires.
The protests are seen as a continuation of last years’ student-led movement that demanded a limit on the powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn monarchy and the dismissal of the Prime Minister.
A wider demographic appears to have joined the protest movement as a result of the economic challenges of the pandemic, despite the risk of being charged with breaking a law against criticising the monarchy.
The number of protesters has reportedly increased, with many citizens unhappy with the Thai government’s handling of the pandemic. Protesters are placing blame upon the Prime Minister for his failure to secure timely and adequate supplies of vaccines.
Activists cite the country’s covid vaccination rates as evidence, with only 13% of the 66 million Thai citizens fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In comparison, the UK has over 79% of the adult population entirely vaccinated. Reports have shown that in Thailand, many of the deaths and infection statistics have been on the rise since April of this year.
The Prime Minister is drawing further media attention as he recently faced the Thai Parliament in a censure debate, on topics such as corruption, economic mismanagement and bungling the coronavirus response.
Five Cabinet ministers also faced this scrutiny during the debate. They have denied all accusations and stand by their actions during the COVID-19 pandemic. This weekend, the Prime Minister survived a no-confidence vote, the second of such votes this year alone.
Following this news, some protesters became more violent, using items such as fireworks and paint bombs. In response, riot police have been using rubber bullets and water cannons on the crowds. The protesters’ promises of continuation are still holding strong, but it seems the Prime Minister still has a foothold in Parliament.
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