Demands for a republic trend in Thailand’s social networks
Bangkok, Sep 25 (efe-epa).- Demands for the republic became a trend on social networks in Thailand this Friday with more than 750,000 tweets with the English label #RepublicofThailand, a day after Parliament delayed a vote to introduce amendments to the Constitution.
The petition comes in the context of a student movement that has been organizing increasingly massive protests since Jun. 18 demanding democratic reforms and has even broken one of the biggest taboos in Thai politics by touching on the thorny issue of the monarchy.
One of the main demands of the students is to limit the power of the monarchy, subjecting it to greater constitutional controls, and abolish the law of lese majesty, which punishes criticism of the royal family with up to 15 years in prison and for years has prevented public debates about the institution.
The last student demonstration was organized on Thursday in front of Parliament, when possible changes to the Constitution drafted by the military junta that governed the country from the coup of 2014 to 2019 were being debated and the vote on six amendment proposals was scheduled.
Two of the main demands of the student movement is the introduction of a new constitution, which includes a Senate of 250 handpicked members, and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, a former general who led the coup six years ago and revalidated his mandate in last year’s election.
The vote on the six amendments was postponed for a month thanks to the votes of the ruling coalition, which has the majority of seats in the Lower House, and those of the senators elected by the military junta of the Upper House.
Both the government coalition and the opposition propose the creation of an assembly to draft a new constitution, but while the government proposes one made up of 150 members elected directly by the electorate and 50 indirectly, the opposition demands that all be elected.
In addition, King Vajiralongkorn, who spends most of his time in Germany, visited Thailand briefly Thursday on the anniversary of the death of his paternal grandfather Prince Mahidol, on his first visit since his mother Sirikit’s birthday on Aug. 12.
The monarch’s inaction during the pandemic and his residence abroad has made him the target of criticism from the protest movement that is unprecedented in a country where the monarchy plays an important role.
The current monarch inherited the throne after the death of his father – King Bumhibol – in 2016, although he was not crowned until last year, but he has not inherited the popularity of King Rama IX, who reigned for seven decades. Many Thais revered him as the father of the nation and as a practically semi-divine figure.
However, King Vajiralongkorn has been consolidating his power in recent years, taking command of two key units of the Army, assuming personal control of the properties of the crown and imposing changes in the 2017 Constitution so that it is not It is necessary to appoint a regent when he is abroad. EFE-EPA