Public gathering ban lifted in Thailand after days of protests

Pro-Democracy Protests Continue Across Thailand
Mass gatherings have rocked the capital Bangkok

Thailand has lifted a ban on public gatherings, after an emergency decree failed to end mass anti-government protests in Bangkok, a government statement said it was revoking the measures as the “serious situation” had eased. The move comes after protesters gave Prime Minister Chan-ocha three-days to step down or face more rallies, Thailand has now faced months of large democracy protests targeting the premier and the king.

The student-led movement is demanding the resignation of Mr Prayuth, a former general who seized power in a 2014 coup and last year became prime minister after a controversial vote, they want a new election, amendments to the constitution, and an end to the harassment of state critics. They are also demanding curbs on the king’s powers, a call that has led to unprecedented public discussion of an institution shielded from criticism by law, a government statement published in the official Royal Gazette on Thursday said the emergency measures announced last week would end from noon (0500 GMT). “It appears that the serious situation that led to the state of emergency declaration has subsided and ended, the circumstances can now be controlled by state officers,” the statement said.

Last week, authorities citied the proximity of protesters to Queen Suthida’s convoy as a reason for the decree, some activists had jeered and held up the three-finger salute at her passing motorcade in Bangkok. The latest government move comes a day after protesters marched to Government House in Bangkok and gave Mr Prayuth a three-day deadline to step down or face more demonstrations, the prime minister has refused to resign, in an earlier televised address on Wednesday he said discussions should be held in parliament. “I will make the first move to de-escalate this situation,” said Mr Prayuth as he announced he was ready to lift the decree.

An extraordinary parliamentary sitting has now been announced for Monday, after the decree was ordered, Thai authorities arrested dozens of activists including key protest leaders. They also ordered probes into multiple new outlets, suspended the online platforms of Voice TV, a local broadcaster, over its coverage of the protests and asked internet providers to block Telegram, a private messaging app that protesters have used to organise rallies, but the escalating crackdown failed to stem the protests, activists ignored the protest ban and have rallied in the tens of thousands in the days since, demanding the release of those in prison. At a large demonstration in Bangkok last Friday, police used major force for the first time in this renewed wave of protest, deploying water canons and tear gas to break up the rallies. Protesters have responded by employing fresh tactics, including flash mobs and calls for everyone to be a leader to avoid arrest.

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