Thailand: Protesters pledge coup anniversary march

  • Anti-regime groups have announced that they will march to Government House on 22 May 18 unless the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) quits power and calls an election in 2018. 22 May 18 marks the fourth anniversary of the military coup in which the NCPO seized power from Yingluck Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai government.
  • In a protest titled “No-confidence Market: Stop the NCPO Regime, Stop Delaying the Election” at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus on 5 Mar 18, the demonstrators — known as “People who want an election” – insisted the general election must be held by Nov 18 as earlier announced by prime minister and chief of the NCPO Prayut Chan-o-cha.
  • In addition, the NCPO must step down from power before the run-up to an election to ensure people’s freedom to vote as they please.
  • Democracy Restoration Group (DRG) leader Rangsiman Rome also called on the military to withdraw its support for the NCPO.
  • Mr. Rangsiman repeated the three demands of his group: the general election must be held in Nov 17, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) must resign to ensure the polls are free and fair, and the military must stop backing the NCPO and return to the barracks.
  • Meanwhile, Start-Up People leader Sirawith “Ja New” Seritiwat said an election is impossible with the NCPO still in place.
  • Protesters released a large banner with the message “May 22 @ Government House” carried by balloons with pictures of Gen Prayut with a long nose — a nod to the fictional character of Pinnochio whose nose grows longer every time he told a lie.
  • Pol Col Jakkrit Chosungnoen, chief of the Chana Songkhram police station, said the activities were not considered to be a political assembly, rather just a collection of speeches at a campus market fair.

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