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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Thailand: Protester Arrested for Referendum as Govt Reconsiders Power to Constitution

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By Tuesday night, Jatuporn Prompan, of the Coalition for Clean Politics, a pro-democracy group protesting the country’s military government, was busy boarding buses to leave the capital for Bangkok’s suburbs.

“We are trying to be relaxed,” he said. “We are trying to go about our business. We are not going to die fighting.”

But a furious crowd of protesters did not seem to listen to him.

The protest has been inspired by a televised proposal by Thailand’s deputy prime minister, Prawit Wongsuwan, for a referendum on increasing the powers of the National Council for Peace and Order, the administration that has ruled the country since the end of its military coup in May 2014.

Saturday, the prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, spoke in front of a crowd of 20,000 people. “We will step forward, step out, step forward again,” he said, according to CNN.

It was the most provocative of recent comments by Mr. Prayuth, who has continued to govern the country by decree until the people’s votes could be heard. On Sunday, two would-be opposition members of Parliament were detained as they headed to the Capitol to offer their support to a constitutional referendum that has so far failed to find an audience with the people.

“We need to explain to the people what is the reason why this matter should not be put to a vote,” the deputy prime minister, Prawit Wongsuwan, said. “The people want power. We also need to make power good for everyone.”

If implemented, the proposals for the referendum could severely limit the rights of members of parliament.

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