Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha yesterday said that he is not quitting after tens of thousands of anti-government protesters defied a ban on demonstrations and he warned them not to persist.
The ban on gatherings of more than five people was imposed early on Thursday after nearly three months of protests that have called for a reduction in the powers of Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s monarchy, as well as Prayuth’s removal.
Protesters in Bangkok on Thursday evening defied the ban and staged one of the biggest demonstrations.
“I’m not quitting,” Prayuth told reporters after an emergency Cabinet meeting. “The government must use an emergency decree. We have to proceed because the situation has become violent... It is being used for 30 days, or less if the situation eases.”
He warned people not to contravene the emergency measures, saying: “Just wait and see... If you do wrong, we will use the law.”
Protesters seek the removal of Prayuth, who first took power in a 2014 coup, saying that he engineered last year’s election to keep hold of power.
Prayuth has said that the election was fair.
Protesters also want a new constitution, to replace one drafted under military rule.
Calls have also built for reforms to the monarchy, which is accused by protesters of helping to entrench decades of military influence in politics.
Protests have been largely peaceful.
Parliamentary opposition parties condemned the measures.
“Pheu Thai Party calls on General Prayuth Chan-ocha and the state officials to lift the emergency decree and to stop intimidating the people in all manners and to release those who were arrested immediately,” said the party, which has the most seats in parliament.
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