Poll protest leaders unbowed by police charges

Poll protest leaders unbowed by police charges

Anti-regime activists, some dressed like popular superheroes and computer game characters, walk to Nang Loeng police station to answer charges stemming from their May 22 rally. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Anti-regime activists, some dressed like popular superheroes and computer game characters, walk to Nang Loeng police station to answer charges stemming from their May 22 rally. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Pro-election leaders have promised to come back with another rally if the election is postponed again.

Fifty pro-election activists led by Rangsiman Rome, Sirawith "Ja New" Seritiwat and Nuttaa Mahattana gathered in front of the United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC) on Thursday to show support for 47 other activists who were summoned by Nang Loeng police station to hear charges stemming from their protest on May 22.

"If the government does anything that will affect the elections they can be sure that we will come back stronger than ever. We have learned a lot from our previous encounters and our gatherings will grow bigger," said Mr Sirawith.

"June is a pivotal month for all of us as Prime Minister Prayut [Chan-o-cha] has promised an election date will be finalised, so we will monitor whether or not the prime minister will live up to his promises," Mr Rangsiman said.

A total of 62 activists have been charged with a range of activities such as staging protests and trespassing within a 50-metre radius of Government House under a special provision.

The group, which calls itself the People Who Want Elections, earlier protested against the postponement of the election when Gen Prayut pushed it from November 2018 to February 2019.

Ms Nuttaa said signs from the government are not encouraging.

He cited the fact that Gen Prayut recently announced the government would not remove the ban on political activities completely as was anticipated. Parties want the ban lifted so they can start preparing for the election by holding party and campaign meetings.

"It is worrying for Thais to learn that parties will have to receive permission from the National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO] for every single meeting or gathering they wish to host. This was not what the people or politicians expected," Ms Nuttaa said.

Before making their way to the police station for the summons, the group attempted to make a detour past Government House but they were swiftly blockaded by several dozen police officers preventing them from approaching the area.

The other 15 activists including Mr Rangsiman, Mr Sirawith and Ms Nuttaa, were summoned by \police earlier.

In a separate development, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the government and the NCPO are trying to figure out how to make allowances for old and newly-registered parties as they prepare for the election.

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