Conflicts & War

Thai protesters call for curbs to military power

Bangkok, Nov 29 (efe-epa).- Thousands of Thai demonstrators gathered Sunday in front of an army barracks in Bangkok to demand reforms in the military, which since the end of absolutism in the country in 1932 has taken power by force 12 times.

Soldiers used old buses to make a barricade and erected barbed wire around the barracks in the north of the capital city. Protesters arrived at the location by the afternoon.

Authorities also deployed riot police and at least two trucks with water cannons, which have been used on three previous occasions to clear demonstrations. The current wave of protests in Thailand began in July.

The student-led rallies are demanding reforms to limit the power and influence of the military over Thai politics.

The military launched a bloodless coup d’état to take power in 2014 and justified the move as a way to end months of anti-government protests.

The coup’s general, Prayut Chan-ocha, was appointed prime minister, a position he held onto in a controversial general election in 2019. The military junta approved the creation of a new constitution, which was drafted by handpicked experts.

Demonstrators are demanding the immediate resignation of Prayut. They also want to draw up a new constitution to enshrine a reduction of power for both the military and the monarchy.

The barracks chosen for the protest is symbolic as it is home to the Eleventh Infantry Regiment, one of the units King Vajiralongkorn brought under his direct control last year.

Indeed, royal reform is the boldest demand from the protesters and one that has fueled the most friction with conservative sectors of Thai society.

Thailand has some of the toughest lèse-majesté laws in the world, with prison sentences of up to 15 years for insulting the royal family.

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