Pro-democracy activists yesterday called on the Army to stop supporting the military-led National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and their role in politics, and to make an election this year possible.
Military officers must go back to doing their jobs of protecting the country, not administering it, the young protesters said.
The activists called for the military to stop serving the coup makers who, they said, were taking away the rights and freedom of the people. If not, the Army would be targeted along with the NCPO in future demonstrations, they said.
Although current circumstances suggest that an election could only take place in February next year at the earliest, demonstration leaders stood firm in their demand that the poll must happen in November this year.
“This demand is not impossible. If the NCPO and the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) are willing to do it, the election can take place this year,” activist Sirawith Seritiwat said.
Protesters have threatened to stage a large-scale demonstration in May unless all their demands are met. May will mark the fourth anniversary of the coup.
The activists stressed that the NCPO must step down and reduce its role to that of a caretaker government organising the election.
“Elected governments leave office every four years. The NCPO this year should allow the election [to go ahead] so people can vote again,” said Rangsiman Rome.
The protest yesterday was the fourth in a series of demonstrations planned by the Democracy Demonstration Group since last month, when the legislature amended the organic law on the election of MPs to effectively put off the election by three months.
Prior to that, according to junta leader General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s promise to US president Donald Trump, the election was to be held in November this year.
The march yesterday was joined by more than 300 people who were protesting against military rule and calling for a November election.
Some 100 police officers were deployed to contain the march. The two earlier demonstrations, which took place on a university campus, were not met with the same measures.
Yesterday, some activists planned to ride on a truck with amplifiers and make political speeches during their march, but this was obstructed by police officers. They had to abandon the truck and got on a smaller pick up truck instead to lead the protesters on foot to the Royal Thai Army. which is about four kilometres away from the demonstration venue, Thammasat University Tha Prachan Campus.
Blocked by officers, protesters were unable to get inside the Army so they stopped and camped at the front gate to continue protesting and making political speech at 7pm.
As of press time, the assembly had not ended but protest leaders said it would end at 8 pm.
NCPO spokesman Maj-General Piyapong Klinpan, meanwhile, said that officers had been dispatched to facilitate the activity, ensuring it did not affect traffic and commuters.
“If the activities violate any law or order, there will be consequences,” he said.