Thailand tightens security in Bangkok ahead of anti-govt protest

Bangkok, Sep 19 (efe-epa).- Bangkok’s Old Town woke up Saturday to the sight of metal detectors and fences set up at various points in the area, where extensive police deployment is expected due to a massive peaceful protest planned over the weekend against the government and for a reform of the monarchy.

The campus closed its doors on Friday and posted a sign announcing that the campus was closed until Monday so organizers could choose to gather on the Sanam Luang square in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Police say that riot have been mobilized and that some 10,000 officials will be deployed around the area.

Fences to cordon off the Democracy Monument have been placed along with barricades in the Dusit Palace Plaza.

Since early in the day, hundreds of people began arriving at the meeting points of the protest, which is expected to be one of the largest demonstrations since anti-government protests returned to the streets in July.

The demands include a reform of the constitution and the dissolution of the parliament, which they consider a successor to the military junta, led at the time by current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, which ruled the country between 2014 and 2019.

However, their most contentious demand is limiting the power of the monarchy, subjecting it to constitutional controls, and ending the lèse majesté law that lays down prison terms of up to 15 years and other punishments for criticizing the royal household.

The current monarch, King Vajiralongkorn, has not inherited the charisma and respect enjoyed by his father, late Bhumibol Adulyadej, and spends a large part of the year in Germany, evoking criticism during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year Vajiralongkorn married former flight attendant Suthida and named her the queen, months before officially introducing a royal consort, Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi.

For decades, nobody has dared to publicly demand a monarchy reform in Thailand, which shows an evident generation gap between the university student and their parents, many of whom are against this debate. EFE-EPA


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