Sun, Feb 18, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Thai activists set more rallies for democracy

Reuters, BANGKOK

A group of democracy campaigners in Thailand yesterday said it plans to hold more public protests, despite threat of arrests, to demand the military government not delay a general election scheduled for November.

The junta has promised and postponed elections several times since it came to power following a coup in 2014, with the latest date being set for November.

However, a change to the election law by the military-appointed legislature last month means that the election will likely be pushed back to early next year.

That sparked a series of small anti-junta, pro-election protests that is gaining momentum in recent weeks, with demonstrations taking place in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen.

The Democracy Restoration Group says it now wants to hold a series of pro-election demonstrations starting today in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima, followed by a protest in Bangkok on Saturday next week.

The group also announced plans to hold further protests on March 10 and 24, as well as on every Saturday in May, leading to a large gathering that is to take place over several days, from May 19 to 22, marking the four-year anniversary of the 2014 coup.

“We will make May the month for all Thais to think about election and think about how our country should move forward,” democracy advocate Rangsiman Rome told reporters at a news conference.

Junta spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree said the government is not concerned by the planned protests and will rely on the police to maintain peace and order.

“If the protest disturbs others, then it will be up to the police to respond according to the law,” Winthai said.

Earlier this week, the junta lodged a lawsuit against seven Democracy Restoration Group members for inciting unrest and 43 protesters for illegal gathering after last Saturday’s pro-election protest by hundreds of people at Democracy Monument in Bangkok.

The Lawyers Association of Thailand on Friday said that seven leading activists were charged with sedition and 43 others with violating a ban on political assembly for last Saturday’s demonstration, in which 400 people participated.

They were charged earlier this week, but as of Friday morning there had been no public announcement and at least some of those charged had not been notified.

Additional reporting by AP

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