Thai opposition tells PM to resign at parliamentary debate about protests

BANGKOK: Thailand’s biggest opposition party on Monday (Oct 26) called for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign, as parliament opened a special session called by the former military leader to discuss the protests.

Student-led demonstrations which initially demanded the departure of Prayut 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.

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

READ: Protesters return to Bangkok streets to pressure PM

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

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 military government. 

Prayut took power in 2014, overthrowing former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Thaksin Shinawatra, whose struggles with the establishment unleashed more than a decade of turbulence.

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

READ: Thai protesters to petition Germany over King Maha Vajiralongkorn

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 5pm 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 what the king has done. The German government has said it would be unacceptable to conduct politics from there.

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