Thousands run against ‘dictatorship’ in Thai capital

Elias Hubbard
January 14, 2020

Anti-government protesters stage demonstrations across Thailand amidst growing anger at the country's ruling military party.

The man galvanizing this latest protest movement is the charismatic Future Forward leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

Thousands of pro-government demonstrators participated in the "Run Against Dictatorship" on Sunday at a public park here to express their discontent with the Thai government.

The clashing views of the two camps aroused memories of protests that periodically roiled the Thai capital before culminating in coups in 2006 and 2014.

"I think the first step for the process to democratize Thailand would be that General Prayut has to step down", Thanathorn told the media.

"I want a government that cares for people and spends money on our well-being and the environment instead of buying tanks and submarines", said runner Gig, dressed like a tank before the flight. Some also greeted the former junta with three fingers, a gesture from the film "The Hunger Games".

Footage shows people in Pattaya, eastern Thailand, while similar rallies were staged in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and other major cities.

He now has a lean parliamentary majority and is confronted with an audience that is becoming louder with his dissatisfaction with the slow economy and rule by older former generals.

At the same time, a smaller, rival "Walk to Support Uncle" rally took place in another park, with thousands of predominantly older Prayut supporters, nicknamed "Uncle Tu".

One participant at the anti-government run, an office worker who gave his name only as Sakdinan, carried a plastic scythe to pose as the Grim Reaper, the symbol of death.

Famed Thai singer Au Haruethai, who attended the pro-Prayut walk, insisted the coup leader-turned-premier was elected "the democratic way".

The organizers said 10,000 people had signed up to participate, including slogans demanding that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the leader behind a coup in 2014, withdraw.

"People should not use the word "dictator", she said.

Thanathorn was charged Friday with breaching a law on public assembly over the December rally, and Future Forward faces dissolution this month by the constitutional court.

Future Forward stunned Thailand's establishment by becoming the third largest political party after an election last March.

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit retains a rock star-like appeal among his supporters, despite his legal woes.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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