Thailand’s Next Protest Could Draw 100,000, Anti-Government Group Says

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© Photographer: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP
Students make the three-fingered salute as they stand behind the gate of Samsen school to demand for less strict school rules, more tolerance and respect during a protest in Bangkok on October 2, 2020

A planned anti-government protest in Bangkok next week is set to draw some 100,000 people, or twice as many participants as a demonstration last month, according to organizers.

The gathering scheduled for Oct. 14 will call on the government to resign and the monarchy to be reformed, said Arnon Nampa, a lawyer and leading figure in the campaign.

“People who want any or all of these changes should join the movement,” Arnon said at a briefing in Bangkok on Thursday. “We’re looking to increase pressure on the government.”

Thailand’s political risk is back in focus following a series of protests that started mid-July, adding to challenges faced by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha’s government. The economy is headed for its worst ever full-year contraction and year-to-date foreign fund withdrawals from the equity market now exceed a record annual exodus set in 2018.

Read: Thailand’s Political Tensions Seep Into Equities: Taking Stock

Prayuth has said protesters are allowed to gather as long as they follow the law, and that he doesn’t want the movement to escalate because it’s “not good” for the country, according to government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri.

The protest organizers, representing several youth-led groups, plan to hold their gathering at Democracy Monument, a symbol of Thailand’s transition to constitutional monarchy following a 1932 coup. Thailand has since had about 20 successful putsches, the most recent led by former army chief Prayuth who now heads an elected government.

(Updates with comment from government spokesman in penultimate paragraph.)

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