World Here’s What May Happen Next in Thailand’s Historic Protests

04:05  25 october  2020
04:05  25 october  2020 Source:   bloomberg.com

Thailand protests: Government announces emergency decree to quell pro-democracy demonstrations

  Thailand protests: Government announces emergency decree to quell pro-democracy demonstrations Thailand's government arrested several prominent protest leaders and announced a ban on gatherings of more than five people under an emergency decree Thursday aimed at quelling pro-democracy demonstrations that have gripped the country for more than three months. © Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Pro-democracy protesters seen pushing back Thai police during an anti-government demonstration on October 14, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand. The decree, which came into effect in the capital Bangkok at 4 a.m.

Thailand ’ s growing protest movement, which was set off by student activism last month, has since gained broader support. Even before the protest kicked off, the Thai security apparatus had begun harassing those who might want to speak out. Mr. Arnon was arrested on sedition charges last week.

Thai anti-government protesters next to a portrait of King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Bangkok. Photo: EPA. Youth-led pro -democracy protesters want a new constitution, limits on the monarchy and the end of Prayuth Chan-ocha’ s military-backed government.

(Bloomberg) -- With Thailand’s parliament set to convene on Monday to find a way out of a political crisis fueled by street protests, one thing is becoming clear: There is no easy solution for the military-backed government.

Protesters calling for democratic reforms and changes to the monarchy were undeterred by an emergency decree prohibiting large gatherings, prompting Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha to lift it and call for calm. That was met with fresh calls for his resignation and even more protests.

a group of people on a city street filled with traffic at night: Pro-Democracy Protests Continue Across Thailand © Photographer: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images AsiaPac Pro-Democracy Protests Continue Across Thailand

Pro-democracy protesters march to Government House in Bangkok on Oct. 21.

Thai Protesters Plan Rally While Evading Authorities

  Thai Protesters Plan Rally While Evading Authorities Anti-government protesters in Thailand planned to gather again in Bangkok on Sunday despite a ban on large groups and police crackdowns on demonstrations in recent days. © Photographer: Getty Images/Getty Images AsiaPac BANGKOK, THAILAND - OCTOBER 17: Protesters attend a rally on October 17, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand. This rally marks the latest in a string of anti-government protests that began in late July where students and anti-government protesters call for governmental reform.

Thailand ’ s protests began in March 2020 but lost momentum due to the Covid-19 pandemic before restarting in July. Tensions escalated in mid-October when tens of thousands of young protesters took to the streets, mostly in Bangkok but also in other parts of Thailand . The demonstrators demand the

Thousands gathered in Thailand this weekend at a rally calling for reform, which culminated Sunday with a group attempting to march to the Monarch' s Privy Council, next to the Royal Palace, to deliver their demands -- an explosive and unprecedented move in a country that reveres the monarchy.

Photographer: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images AsiaPac

Now the military and royalist elite who have long held power in Thailand must decide whether to meet some or all protest demands, or take more aggressive steps to shut down the demonstrations.

Here are possible scenarios for where things go from here:

1. Slow-Walking Reform

One key demand is a new constitution to replace the one drafted after a 2014 coup led by Prayuth. Its provision for a military-appointed Senate has been instrumental in helping him retain power following last year’s election.

Prayuth’s government has already said it’s open to certain unspecified changes, and prior to Monday’s special parliamentary session it already initiated a process to begin amending the constitution. Still, that process could end up taking years, and it wouldn’t be the first time: Following the bloody ‘Black May’ uprising against military rule in 1992, it took five years before a new constitution was put in place. And that was nullified in a coup less than a decade later.

Thai royalists rally to counter surging protests

  Thai royalists rally to counter surging protests Thai royalists rally to counter surging protestsBANGKOK (Reuters) - A few dozen Thai royalists held a rally in Bangkok on Wednesday in the face of protests against the government and the monarchy that have drawn tens of thousands of people to the streets in defiance of an official ban.

Pro -democracy students burn a portrait of Thailand ’ s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha in front of the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand , July What is the history of these pro -democracy protests in Thailand ? The pro -democracy rallies seen this week did not emerge out of thin air, the protestors

Thailand ' s Prime Minister has now revoked the emergency order in an attempt to de-escalate tensions, but protesters have vowed to come back in three days if he does not quit. Pro -democracy protesters gather outside the Prime Minister' s office in Government house on Wednesday night, demanding his

“The regime could be looking at the same kind of tactics this time around,” said Kevin Hewison, an emeritus professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who has researched Thai politics for decades. They could “drag it out for so long, but eventually don’t make many changes at all.”

2. Prayuth’s Ouster

Calls for Prayuth’s resignation have persisted since last year’s election. While he has so far refused to step down, his rule is contingent on the support of the monarchy and other elites in Bangkok. If protests were to garner wider support from the general population, his ouster may be the easiest way to try and soothe tensions.

Video: Thai pro-democracy protesters clash with police (AFP)

Prayuth’s future is now firmly tied to the challenges to the monarchy, said Lee Morgenbesser, a lecturer at Australia’s Griffith University whose research focuses on authoritarian regimes and Southeast Asian politics. “If the protests persist too long or become violent, which would see the prestige of the king further questioned, the Thai government is an obvious sacrificial lamb.”

Thailand's Prime Minister says he'll lift state of emergency but protesters need to 'reciprocate with sincerity'

  Thailand's Prime Minister says he'll lift state of emergency but protesters need to 'reciprocate with sincerity' Thailand's Prime Minister announced he is prepared to lift emergency measures imposed on Bangkok following more than a week of daily anti-government protests in the nation's capital and other cities.In a pre-recorded speech that was televised on Wednesday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he is taking the first steps to "de-escalate" political tensions that have seen tens of thousands of protesters take to the streets in recent months, calling for a new constitution, monarchy reform and Prayut's resignation.

The founding cause of the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests was the proposed legislation of the 2019 Hong Kong extradition bill. However, other causes have been pointed out

What has happened so far? Here is a timeline of how the Hong Kong protests have escalated May 11 – Scuffles break out in Hong Kong’ s legislature between pro -democracy lawmakers and those loyal to Beijing The airline suspends a pilot, one of 44 charged with rioting the month before, the next day.

a group of people around each other: Pro-Democracy Protests Continue Across Thailand © Photographer: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images AsiaPac Pro-Democracy Protests Continue Across Thailand

Pro-democracy protesters gather at Victory Monument for a rally on Oct. 21.

Photographer: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images AsiaPac

Having already survived a no-confidence vote in February, the government isn’t likely to face much pressure in parliament. Still, even if Prayuth were to step aside, he could just be replaced by someone else backed by the military.

3. Violent Crackdown

Past protest movements in Thailand have often ended in bloody crackdowns, most recently in 2010. With groups of royalists organizing to confront the pro-democracy demonstrators, there are concerns they could happen again at some point -- even if the threat isn’t imminent.

a steam engine train with a lot of smoke around it: Violence Hits Bangkok As Military Cracks Down © Photographer: Athit Perawongmetha/Getty Images AsiaPac Violence Hits Bangkok As Military Cracks Down

An anti-government protester throws a tire toward a burned truck in central Bangkok in 2010.

Photographer: Athit Perawongmetha/Getty Images

“There can always be a violent crackdown,” said Paul Chambers, a Thai politics expert at Naresuan University’s College of Asean Community Studies, adding that such a move could backfire on authorities. The government would “do so only because it is desperate for the survival of military and royal privileges unreformed.”

4. Monarchy Changes

After breaking long-held taboos about publicly criticizing the royal family, protesters are demanding the monarch no longer endorse coups, provide transparency in managing billions of dollars worth of crown assets, and get rid of defamation laws that stifle discussion of the royal family.

Any of those changes would require approval from King Maha Vajiralongkorn, which analysts say is a long shot.

“Royal abdication, scaled back authority for the crown are highly unlikely anytime soon,” said Chambers. “After all, Thailand’s military, political and economic elites ascribe their legitimacy to close linkages to the palace. A weakening of palace power weakens the power of all of Thailand’s vested power players.”

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Thailand rocked by protests as prime minister won't step down .
"We see the people need change in Thailand," a TV anchor said. "We've been under a dictatorship for the past seven years.""The prime minister must resign," said opposition leader Sompong Amornwiwat, echoing demands of tens of thousands of protestors who had set a deadline of last Saturday for the premier to step down. Prayuth refused.

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