Thailand’s biggest opposition party calls for Prime Minister to resign

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Thailand’s biggest opposition party called on Monday for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to resign, as parliament opened a special session called by the former junta leader to discuss months of protests.

Student-led demonstrations which initially demanded the departure of Prayuth and a new constitution have increasingly turned their attention to the monarchy, calling for reforms to curb the powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

“The prime minister is a major obstacle and burden to the country. Please resign and everything will end well,” said Sompong Amornvivat, leader of the opposition Pheu Thai party, the largest single party in parliament.

Prayuth called the parliament session this week after the imposition of Oct. 15 emergency measures to end the demonstrations – including a ban on protests – only inflamed anger and brought tens of thousands onto Bangkok streets.

“I’m confident that today, regardless of our different political views, everyone still loves the country,” Prayuth said in his opening address.

Thai royalist and pro-government supporters gather outside the Parliament, in Bangkok, Thailand, 26 October 2020. Hundreds of pro-government supporters gathered at the Parliament to ensure that pro-democracy protesters did not enter into the area, while the government hold a special session of parliament on 26 and 27 October to find the solution to the ongoing street protest, which are calling for the resignation of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a new constitution and monarchy reform. EPA-EFE/NARONG SANGNAK

But his opponents and protest leaders are sceptical the parliamentary session will resolve the crisis. His supporters have a majority in parliament, whose entire upper house was picked by his former junta.

Prayuth seized power in 2014, overthrowing elected Pheu Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of populist former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, whose struggles with the establishment unleashed more than a decade of turbulence.

Protesters accuse Prayuth of engineering last year’s election to keep the army’s grip on power. He says the election was fair.

Breaking a long-standing taboo, protesters have also called for the king’s powers to be reduced, saying the monarchy has helped enable decades of military domination. The Palace has made no comment since the start of the protests.

Protesters are due to march to the German embassy at 5 p.m. (1000 GMT) and have said they will petition Berlin to investigate the king’s use of his powers while in the European nation, where he spends much of his time.

They have not said exactly they believe the king has done. The German government has said it would be unacceptable to conduct politics from there.

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