Protesters debate Prayut performance

Protesters debate Prayut performance

Nattawut Saikuar addresses protesters at the Asoke intersection on Thursday evening. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
Nattawut Saikuar addresses protesters at the Asoke intersection on Thursday evening. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

A protest aimed at ousting Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has been held in Bangkok in parallel with the no-confidence at Parliament.

At Asoke intersection, Nattawut Saikaur, a red-shirt co-leader of 2010 street protests, and red-shirt activist Sombat Boonngamanong held the “Next Step to Oust Prayut” in what they called the “mob festival” format.

The pair led three rallies on wheels for the same purpose over the past few weeks.

At 4pm, its members took the stage and debated how the government had failed in solve the country's problems, especially the Covid-19 situation.

Mr Nattawut said the activity was held in parallel with the no-confidence debate to show a lot of people did not have confidence in the Prayut government.

“MPs will have to choose between the people and Prayut, who failed miserably, causing damage and more than 10,000 deaths. Let’s see how the MPs, who were elected by people, decide,” he said.

Mr Nattawut said although Gen Prayut has faced considerable pressure from the coalition, his group would accept only legitimate change.

“We won’t accept any means outside the constitution. If Gen Prayut survives the censure debate, we’ll keep on trying to unseat him. But if fate plays tricks on him, we insist we’ll accept only changes by the book,” he said.

He did not elaborate, but there have been rumours since Wednesday about an internal conflict brewing in Palang Pracharath (PPRP), the core coalition party controlled by Gen Prawit Wongsuwon.

According to unconfirmed reports, a faction, led by PPRP secretary-general Thamanat Prompow, reportedly wants some of the cabinet seats currently reserved for Gen Prayut’s unelected men over the past seven years. They currently include interior, finance and foreign affairs portfolios, as well as a deputy prime ministerial post.

As a general election is due in 2023, they claimed they need solid performances from these ministries to convince voters on campaign trails. Up to 50 PPRP MPs are reportedly in this faction.

Gen Prayut needs a majority, or at least 242, of all 482 MP votes to survive the debate. The 18-party coalition now has 276 votes, including five from Move Forward MPs who defected to Bhumjaithai but officially remain with the progressive party and a Prachachart MP who always votesin favour of the government. The eight-party opposition has 206 votes. It remains to be seen whether the conflict would change the momentum.

The protesters also planned another rally on Friday, to be joined by the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration.

At Din Daeng, Thalu Gas, a group of young people, mostly on motorcycles, gathered in the evening as they have always done since August following protests by other groups.

They reportedly set off firecrackers and burned some tyres, but no police showed up in the area as of 7pm so no clashes were reported.

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