BANGKOK (REUTERS) – Thai protesters planned mass demonstrations on Sunday (Aug 15) with convoys of cars to converge on several locations in Bangkok, demanding Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha resign amid rising anger over his government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Anti-government protests in recent weeks have resulted in violent clashes after the police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon to disperse protests in front of Mr Prayut’s residence. The authorities say public gatherings are illegal under the Covid-19 emergency.
The organisers of Sunday’s “car mob” said protesting in cars would help prevent the spread of the virus, vowing to protest peacefully with a clear timeframe for the start and end to the activities.
“The three routes that we plan clearly avoid passing high security areas or sensitive places that can lead to confrontation,” said activist Nattawut Saikua, one of the organisers.
The police said the use of force is sometimes necessary to maintain public order, adding that they have complied with international standards in using tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.
“We need to maintain the law and keep the peace,” Thai police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk told reporters, without specifying whether the police intend to use force.
More than 130 people have been arrested in the latest round of anti-government protests since the middle of last month, Mr Suwat said.
Thailand’s youth-led, anti-government protest movement appears to have regained momentum and its support has broadened after demonstrations last year attracted hundreds of thousands of people before a crackdown by the authorities.
Other political groups, including some of Mr Prayut’s former allies, are now joining the protests as the country struggles to cope with its worst wave of Covid-19, with many blaming the government’s handling of the crisis.
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