Pro-democracy protest leaders have called for people to wear black for seven days and to rally at Victory Monument on Saturday to express their rejection of the Constitutional Court ruling that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's term has not reached its eight-year limit.
Black-clad members of the Ratsadon protest network gathered at the Pathumwan Skywalk in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre on Friday afternoon to listen to the ruling. Led by Thatchapong Kaedam, the crowd jeered upon hearing the decision in favour of Gen Prayut.
Mr Thatchapong said the group would not accept the conclusion, calling it a “slap to the face of the nation”.
Thanaporn Wichan, an activist with the Labour Network for People's Rights, read a declaration from the protesters claiming they would not accept the ruling. They believe Gen Prayut’s tenure ended on Aug 24, rendering his activities after that date unconstitutional and his administration illegitimate.
They urged citizens to “mourn the regime under a rogue prime minister” by dressing in black from Oct 1 to 7.
Others from groups such as 24 June Democracy and Talu Fah called on political parties, especially those in the opposition, to join the public in taking to the streets to lend more weight to demands for change.
They expressed confidence that support would surge, while saying that protesters should prepare saline solution if they must face tear gas. Nonetheless, the groups asked the military to not take advantage of the situation to carry out a coup.
Talu Fah leader Thanapat Kapeng announced a major demonstration on all roads leading to Victory Monument starting from 4pm on Saturday with the intent of ousting Gen Prayut.
Calling the protest a “last resort for the public”, he said participants should prepare to face tear gas, noting vehicles could also join in a “car mob”.
The opposition Move Forward Party expressed disappointment with the court ruling, saying it showed the court is helping prolong the coup plotters' rule. Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat noted in a tweet that it was the third time the charter court had saved Gen Prayut.
Mr Pita has called for a public referendum on a new constitution, to be held concurrently with the next general election, arguing that the current charter is the legacy of the 2014 coup led by Gen Prayut.
The Kana Lomruam Prachachon (Melting Pot) group, meanwhile, gathered at the Ratchaprasong intersection to listen to the court ruling. Led by former red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan and lawyer Nitithorn Lamlua, the crowd listened to music and speeches into the night.
In 2019, before the Covid pandemic struck, the pro-democracy movement staged some rallies that drew thousands. On a handful of occasions, police used teargas and water cannon to disperse crowds.
The pandemic seriously curbed the momentum of the movement, as did dozens of royal defamation charges against movement leaders under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law, that are still making their way through the courts.