Cabinet agrees special parliament amid protests

Cabinet agrees special parliament amid protests

A pro-democracy protester uses a loudspeaker to talk to the crowd and gives the three-finger salute during an anti-government rally at Kaset intersection in Bangkok on Monday, as they continue to defy an emergency decree banning gatherings. (AFP photo)
A pro-democracy protester uses a loudspeaker to talk to the crowd and gives the three-finger salute during an anti-government rally at Kaset intersection in Bangkok on Monday, as they continue to defy an emergency decree banning gatherings. (AFP photo)

The Cabinet has backed a proposal from lawmakers to convene a special session of the parliament to discuss anti-government protests that have swept the nation’s capital and other major cities in the past week.

The house will meet for two days from Oct 26, Anucha Nakasai, minister for Prime Minister’s Office, told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Bangkok Tuesday. The proposal needs to be endorsed by His Majesty the King.

The move for parliamentary debate follows six straight days of rallies attended by tens of thousands of protesters calling for Prayuth’s resignation, a rewriting of the constitution and reform of the monarchy. While the prime minister on Tuesday didn’t say how far the government could go in meeting the demands, the parliament may move forward the process of constitutional amendment to placate the protesters.

“Given the escalating protest movement, the parliament won’t be able to delay the process for charter amendment any longer,” said Virot Ali, lecturer at Thammasat University’s Faculty of Political Science. “The move might be a tactic to buy time without really considering what the protesters demand, which will escalate the movement even further.”

Market Impact

The protests have weighed on the country’s stocks and currency as concerns mount a prolonged standoff may erode company earnings and delay an economic recovery. The benchmark stock index, the worst performer in Asia this year, snapped a four-day losing streak on Tuesday, while the baht fell 0.3% to 31.259 to a dollar, extending losses this year to 4.2%.

On Tuesday, Gen Prayut ordered police to reconsider censorship of media outlets, a day after police said they would probe four news outlets that may have violated the emergency rules imposed in Bangkok last week.

“Our job is to protect the country and eliminate ill-intentioned actions aimed at creating chaos and conflict in the country,” Gen Prayut told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

Earlier on Tuesday, rally organisers said there would be a “surprise” for the government if authorities failed to release all detained protesters and lift the emergency rules by 6pm local time.
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