Protesters gather in Bangkok after PM snubs call to resign | Thailand

Protesters who want to put pressure on the government ahead of the special session of parliament on Monday.

Protesters have rallied in Bangkok to keep up pressure on the government the day before a special session of parliament called to ease political tension.

The rally took place on Sunday at the busy Rajprasong intersection in the heart of the capital’s shopping district, which usually attracts many weekend visitors.

The rallies were called on Saturday evening after Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha ignored protesters’ deadline to resign.

The protesters’ core demands include a more democratic constitution and reforms of the monarchy.

Public criticism of the monarchy is unprecedented in a country where the royal institution is considered sacrosanct.

Protesters accuse Prayuth, who led a coup in 2014 as army chief, of wrongly returning to power in last year’s parliamentary elections because the laws were changed in favor of a pro-military party.

The protesters also say that the constitution, which was written and enacted under military rule, is undemocratic.

The Prayuth government convened parliament for a session expected to begin Monday and lasting two days to defuse weeks of almost daily protests.

“The only way to find a lasting solution … is to discuss and resolve these differences through the parliamentary process,” he said last week.

Prayuth also lifted the state of emergency on Thursday that he imposed a week earlier, which made the protests illegal.

The protesters were not impressed with his efforts to appease them and declare them insincere.

Several have noted on social media that the issues raised by the government for discussion were not intended to address protesters’ concerns but were barely disguised criticism of the protests themselves.

The rallies were called on Saturday evening after Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha ignored protesters’ deadline to resign [Mladen Antonov/AFP]Tony Cheng of Al Jazeera, who reports from Bangkok, said the protesters were in full voice and reiterated their demands.

“There are thousands of protesters on the streets. The mood is more relaxed than in the last few weeks. There are cops here, but they stand back and direct traffic where they can. The authorities did not shut down the transportation system like they did before, ”Cheng said.

Protest organizers called for a march on Monday afternoon to take them to the German embassy in the center of Bangkok, far from the parliament complex on the outskirts of the city.

The march is apparently intended to draw attention to the protesters’ claim that King Maha Vajiralongkorn spends too much time in Germany.