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Despite ban, protests call for removal of PM for Covid-19 failure



PHOTO: Body bags symbolises Covid-19 deaths in protests defying new restrictions. (via Reuters)

Despite new restrictions banning gatherings of more than 5 people in dark red zones including Bangkok, increasingly angry protests are calling for the removal of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha amid his government’s Covid-19 failures. The government enacted a prohibition on gatherings, saying that skyrocketing Covid-19 infections motivated the rule, though many question the timing of the order on the eve of planned large-scale anti-government protest.

Flouting the new rule, the streets were filled for a march from Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue to Government House with hordes of people walking the streets interspersed with motorbikes and vehicles in the car mob style protests used the last several weekends, honking horns and making noise down the streets. The Free Youth movement gathered the crowd at the monument and began their march to protest the government, continuing demonstrations that started one year ago last July.

The original demonstrators were protesting the coup 7 years ago that had become a long-term government, calling for PM Prayut to be deposed a democracy to be installed. While the mostly young protesters had decent support from the general public, the deterioration of the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has persuaded many on-the-fence people and even former supporters to lose faith in the government and call for its removal.

The embattled political leaders now find themselves in a vicious cycle spiralling out of control. Failure to control the spread of Covid-19 leads to protests that the government then has to ban to prevent the spread of Covid-19 which could further mire the government in protests and discontent.

2,000 police officers were on hand to try to wrangle and control the protesters who bucked the ban on gatherings that has been extended to August 2 and created increasingly provocative symbolic gestures to fuel the anti-government sentiment. The Metropolitan Police Bureau removed a number of PM Prayut effigies at Democracy Monument before they could be burned as the crowd intended. And fake body bags were left strewn around to represent all the Covid-19 victims they say could have been prevented with more competent governing.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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