Thai protesters denounce government before no-confidence vote

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BANGKOK (REUTERS) – Hundreds gathered outside of Parliament in Bangkok late on Friday (Feb 19) holding a demonstration that coincided with the censure debate against the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha by the opposition lawmakers inside the building.

Thousands of police officers were on standby ahead of an expected parliamentary vote on Saturday, in anticipation of another protest.

The protest is part of the youth-led anti-government movement that emerged last year to demand the resignation of one-time coup leader Prayut, and also broke longstanding taboos by calling for reform of the powerful monarchy.

The activists took turns speaking on a makeshift stage on the road leading to Parliament, criticising the Prime Minister and his Cabinet forwhat they see as abuse of power, mismanagement and policy failures in various areas.

“We know that it will be difficult to stop this government inside Parliament,” Mr Sukriffee Lateh, a student activist, told Reuters. “So our movement outside will help the public better understand the real problems that ordinary people face from this government.”

The censure debate began on Tuesday, led by an opposition that accused Mr Prayut and nine members of his Cabinet of various failings. The Prime Minister is expected to survive the no-confidence vote on Saturday, along with his Cabinet.

The police say all protests in Bangkok are illegal, citing the ban on public gatherings since a second wave of coronavirus infections began in December. Police Major-General Piya Tavichai, deputy commissioner of Bangkok Metropolitan Police Bureau, said the police had deployed 900 officers around Parliament and put 11,850 officers on standby for the weekend.

Last week, police clashed with protesters demanding the release of four activists jailed pending trial on charges that they insulted the monarchy, a crime in Thailand punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

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