Thai Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha has dismissed calls from opposition parties to resignduring a special two-day session of parliament, saying he will ‘not run away from problems’ .
Prayuth instead called for a two day session to discuss months of protests demanding his departure and reforms to the powerful monarchy.
“I will not run away from problems. I will not leave my duty by resigning at a time when the country has problems,” the former army ruler told the assembly on Tuesday October 27.
The two-day parliamentary session is expected to discuss an incident earlier this month when protesters flashed three-finger salutes – a symbol of the movement – as the royal motorcade with Queen Suthida drove past.
“The protesters say it was not in the plan for the Queen to pass that way, but the government says she can go anywhere,” said Tankhun Jittitsara, one of the secretaries of House Speaker Chuan Leekpai.
“No one knows the truth so we’ll talk about that.”
Thailand, a country under Monarchy style rule, has seen protests that have brought tens of thousands of people onto the streets since mid-July, making it the biggest challenge in years to the monarchy.
In Thailand one can be punished with as much as 30 years imprisonment for merely criticizing the monarchy but since these protests, King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s Palace has made no comment not addressed his people.
Prime Minister Prayuth said the rallies, which he referred to as illegal protests, needed to be brought under control.
“Though the people have the freedom to protest based on the Constitution, authorities need to control the illegal protests,” the prime minister said.
“We do not want to see clashes or riots in the country,” he added, accusing some protesters of “inappropriate actions”.
Opposition members of parliament told Prayuth to stop hiding behind talks of loyalty to the monarchy and step down claiming he engineered the 2019 elections to keep power he seized in 2014 even though he claims the election was fair.
“You’ve been in power for six-and-a-half years – five years under your coup and one-and-a-half years when you gained benefit from an undemocratic constitution,” said Prasert Jantararuangthong, party secretary of the opposition Pheu Thai party.
“I call for General Prayut to resign as premier, which would be a solution to solve all problems.
Prayuth said he had agreed to set up committees to study the problems tabled by the protesters, but claimed he did not know who he should talk to because “there are no leaders. They are all leaders.”
Some of the highest profile protesters were arrested this month in a crackdown under a week of emergency measures that were canceled after they sparked much bigger protests.
On Tuesday October 27, more than 1,000 people gathered in a central Bangkok park on to continue protests.
“We want to show support and encouragement to his majesty,” said Thatchapan Boriphet, 57 according to Al Jazeera news.
“I am neutral politically but I cannot stand it when there is a violation of the monarchy.”