Protesters held off near Government House by blockade of vehicles, police

Outside Bangkok’s Government House. Photo: Coconuts
Outside Bangkok’s Government House. Photo: Coconuts

Thousands of people demanding the government step down and monarchy be reformed marched on Thailand’s Government House in Bangkok, overcoming police barricades to reach their destination before dispersing at about 9:30pm.

Police had retreated from blockades erected along the way, and thousands of marchers gathered meters from the government’s seat of power, separated by a canal bridge blocked by city buses, police vehicles, water cannon trucks and police. 

“Fuck Prayuth!” they shouted in reference to Gen. Prayuth Chan-o-cha, who seized power in a 2014 coup and whose ouster they demand. Protesters also want the constitution rewritten by public-chosen representatives and reforms of the monarchy. Before dispersing, a letter was handed over to police representatives demanding that Prayuth resign within three days.

Through megaphones, people exhorted the large crowd to “keep cool” and avoid violence. For their part, the police avoided a repeat of Friday’s violent dispersal of a smaller crowd in downtown Bangkok with water cannons and force.

The march set out from the Victory Monument at 5:30pm after protesters again answered a call to defy an emergency decree banning gatherings to protest the government. 

Getting their wasn’t easy. Tense scenes played out at 7pm with both sides refusing to back down at one line of police, who later withdrew after protesters dragged away the barriers and barbed wire separating them.

 

Front line of protest march. Photo: Coconuts
Front line of protest march. Photo: Coconuts

It was the seventh mass rally in eight days. A clash broke out at about 5:15pm at Ramkhamhaeng University after about 100 pro-royalists in yellow shirts approached a rally there and demanded they leave. Police had to separate the group after one of them threw a traffic cone at a student speaking from atop a vehicle.

In an address to the nation at about 7pm, Gen. Prayuth said he would defuse tensions by lifting the state of emergency he imposed over the capital last week.

“I am preparing to repeal the severe emergency in the Bangkok area soon, except in the event of any serious situation,” he said.

“We must heal the wounds before they get deeper,” he added.

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This is a developing story and may be updated without notice.

 

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CITY: BANGKOKCATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: POLITICS

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