Protesters Call for “Kicking Out” Thai Prime Minister on Coup Anniversary | Politics News
Protesters mark the 15th anniversary of the coup that toppled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Hundreds of protesters marched through the streets of Bangkok on Sunday to mark the 15th anniversary of a military coup that toppled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The billionaire ex-ruler – who now lives in self-exile – has remained a leading figure in the country’s politics since the military toppled his government on September 19, 2006.
Unloading a huge cardboard model of a tank for their car-for-tank demonstration, rally participants honked horns to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former army chief who came to power during a coup in 2014.
“Fifteen years have passed, we are still here to fight,” shouted Nattawut Saikuar, a politician long associated with Thaksin, to a sea of supporters waving “Kick out Prayut” flags.
“No matter how many coups, it can’t stop us… No matter how capable their tanks are, it can’t stop the fighting hearts of the people.”
Thailand has seen more than a dozen coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932 – often staged in the name of protecting the powerful royal family.
Charges of corruption
Thaksin’s rise to power was spurred by the so-called “Red Shirts,” mostly working-class supporters who revere him for his populist contributions such as building a universal health care system. But he was hated by Bangkok’s elites and the powerful military, and faced numerous corruption charges.
Her influence in Thailand’s patronage-based politics permeated the kingdom even after her withdrawal – her sister Yingluck was the next ruler, before she was also deposed in a 2014 coup led by the chief of the army of the time, Prayuth.
The general became prime minister in the 2019 elections conducted under a new constitution drafted by his generals.
Nattawut said the prime minister has had a lot of time to improve Thailand, “but the country is in a recession. The economy, society and politics are collapsing.
Red-clad protesters in cars and motorcycles were planning to travel to the Democracy Monument, the site of several rallies of an anti-government movement that has repeatedly called for Prayuth’s resignation since last July.
Government scrutiny intensified after a new wave of COVID-19 in April snowballed the cumulative number of cases in Thailand from less than 29,000 to over 1.4 million infections in just five months, as well as an increasing number of deaths.
Earlier this month, Prayuth survived a vote of no confidence – his third since 2019.