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Bangkok Emergency Decree Revoked; Protestors Tell Prayut: ‘Quit by Sunday’

About 1,000 students and youths protested Oct. 16 at Chiang Mai University (Photo: Will Langston for the Bangkok Herald)
About 1,000 students and youths protested Oct. 16 at Chiang Mai University (Photo: Will Langston for the Bangkok Herald)

The promised revocation of the emergency decree outlawing protests in Bangkok since Oct. 15 became official at noon, but pro-democracy activists said they have no plans to stop demonstrating if Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha does not resign by Sunday.

Prayut offered in a speech last night to rescind the decree on condition that protestors marching to Government House Wedensday night refrained from violence. Despite scattered skirmishes with police the premier followed through, publishing the revocation order in the Royal Gazette Thursday morning.

Protestors said they accepted the olive branch that Prayut offered in his speech last night, agreeing to take a pause in their near-daily string of protests to de-escalate the situation. However, they took none of their demands off the table.

Protesters want Prayut to resign by Sunday and are calling for the release of all jailed protest leaders, the dissolution of parliament, the rewriting of a new constitution and end to harassment of all activists. Some activists said they also want to see reform of the of the constitutional monarchy system.

Prayut has pressed protestors to redirect the efforts from street protests to parliament, urging them to meet, discuss and lobby for reforms through the legislative process.

“If the protestors seek a solution through tough street action, maybe they will win by side-stepping the parliamentary process. Or maybe they won’t. Both have happened in the past,” Prayut said in his pre-recorded address last night. “If the state seeks to make problems go away through only tough action, maybe it will. Or maybe it won’t. Both have happened in the past, too.”

The Cabinet approved a special parliamentary session for Oct. 26-27, but critics called the move just another stall tactic by a royalist government with no desire to change the status quo.

Faith in the parliamentary process diminished last month after MPs delayed a vote on constitutional amendments proposed by democracy advocates and opposition parties.

They voted instead to set up a panel to study the proposals until Oct. 23.

Instead of deflating the protest movement, the delay had the opposite effect, prompting the mass rally Oct. 14 and days of subsequent protests. Prayut then responded with the emergency decree, violent protest suppression through use of riot police and water cannons and mass arrests of dissidents.