Thailand’s Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, has lifted emergency measures imposed last month in a bid to end months of ongoing pro-democracy protests across Thailand.
The Prime Minister, who came to power during the 2014 coup, said in an address that he was working to de-escalate the protests. A government statement was issued on Thursday confirming the lifting of emergency measures. Chan-ocha said the country ‘must now step back from the edges of the slippery slope that can easily slide to chaos.’ An emergency session will be held next week in parliament.
As the Prime Minister was speaking, tens of thousands of protestors marched on Government House, where protest leaders rejected the Prime Minister’s offer and responded with calls for his resignation within three days. One protest leader, Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon, known as Mind, said ‘our fight isn’t over as long as he doesn’t resign. If within three days he doesn’t resign, he will face the people again.’ Hours later she was arrested.
The Emergency measures, which included a ban on gatherings of more than four people in the capital city of Bangkok, were issued in a bid to stop pro-democracy protests that have occurred across Thailand for the last three months. Protestors are demanding a curb on the royal family’s wealth and power and the creation of a new constitution, believing the current one unfairly skewed the 2019 election in Chan-ocha’s favour. Tensions continued to rapidly escalate with police firing water cannons on protestors, many of whom were students.
Despite government efforts, the protests are continuing to grow with protesters risking long jail sentences and, in extreme cases, a possible death sentence. According to Thai human rights lawyers, at least 80 have been arrested so far.