World

Thai protesters plan rally next week of up to 100,000 people

BANGKOK: Thai anti-government activists yesterday announced plans to hold an overnight protest and to rally up to 100,000 people next week, piling more pressure on the military-backed administration to step down.

A march on the Government House would mark the first time the pro-democracy movement, which started rallies in July, moved beyond speeches on stages.

"We will stay overnight on university campus on Sept 19 and march the next day," said United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration leader Panusaya Sithijirawattankul.

If more people join, the rally would move to a public square beside the city's historic Grand Palace, she said.

After a long absence, demonstrations have returned to Thailand's streets to demand the removal of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, reviving memories of more than a decade of intermittent unrest that culminated in a 2014 coup.

'ENGULFED IN FLAMES'

Mr Prayut led that putsch and remained in power after a disputed election last year that he insists was conducted fairly.

He has warned Thailand could be "engulfed in flames" if protests persist.

The protesters want the government to stop harassing opponents, amend the constitution and dissolve Parliament.

Some demonstrators have also broken a long-standing taboo by calling for curbs to the power of the country's monarchy.

"We will certainly talk about the reform of the monarchy on stage on the 19th," said Mr Parit Chiwarak, a protest leader better known as "Penguin".

The rally coincides with the anniversary of a 2006 coup that ousted the government of Thaksin Shinawatra.

The protesters have pledged a peaceful rally.

"We don't have weapons. Don't use tear gas on us, don't harass the people," Mr Parit said, adding he expected a turnout of 50,000 to 100,000 people. - REUTERS

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