By Thai Newsroom Reporters
HUNDREDS OF PROTESTERS today (August 23) peacefully occupied an empty street near Government House with intent to spend the night over there waiting for more people to join tomorrow and to mount pressure on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to step down upon the end of his eight-year rule.
The anti-Prayut protesters had intermittently engaged in non-violent standoffs with policemen with barbed wire and empty cargo containers laid around Government House to keep the demonstrators at bay.
The street protesters spoke via loudspeakers that Prayut’s eight-year rule maximumly provided by law has already ended tomorrow and urged him to abide by the law and immediately step down.
Though Prayut had left Government House early afternoon, the protesters vowed to continue to peacefully gather on the street outside the premier’s office tomorrow and might probably not disperse over the next few days whilst anticipating many more people to join in the sustained moves to press Prayut to call it quits after eight years in power, beginning in 2014, the year in which he orchestrated a bloodless coup as army chief and turned himself into head of a military-installed government.
No violence or clashes between the policemen and protesters who had proceeded from Democracy Monument barely a few kilometres away were reported.
Meanwhile, Khana Lom Ruam Prachachon activists today resumed a gathering of anti-Prayut protesters on the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s open ground near Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue.
However, political activist Jatuporn Prompan said those demonstrators under his guidance would not leave the BMA open ground for Government House tonight and would join in a countdown over there to mark Prayut’s end of eight-year rule at midnight.
He said Prayut’s rule is legally ending from tomorrow upon which the unelected premier would be called an “outlawed” one since he has failed to step down and tried to stay above the law by continuing to run the country beyond a maximum eight-year tenure provided by law.
In the meantime, it remains to be seen whether the Constitutional Court will formally accept the Pheu Thai-led opposition bloc’s petition for a court ruling on Prayut’s eight-year rule tomorrow and whether the embattled Prayut might be ordered by court to immediately stop performing as head of government until such judgement has been delivered.
If eventually ordered by court to immediately stop performing as head of government, Prayut may only continue to perform as defence minister, the post which he has concurrently assumed, and leave the top post of government to Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan to act as caretaker premier, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.
Scenes from tonight’s anti-Prayut protests. All photos: Matichon