BANGKOK — The Prime Minister on Wednesday night ordered a “strict legal action without any exception” against protesters who allegedly blocked a royal motorcade earlier today – a threat that could further inflame tensions between the demonstrators and the establishment.
PM Prayut Chan-o-cha passed down his instruction to the police after deeming the protest on Wednesday a “violent gathering that sought to sabotage the administration” and public order, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri told the media.
Gen. Prayut was also scheduled to deliver a statement in a live broadcast, but the plan was canceled, media reports said.
Anucha accused the anti-government protesters of obstructing a Royal Family motorcade and insulting the monarchy.
He was referring to a confrontation in front of Government House on Wednesday, when scores of police officers charged at demonstrators and shoved them away from a royal motorcade carrying Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti along Phitsanulok Road.
The motorcade appeared to catch many protesters by surprise; no formal announcement was made about the route, and official reports previously said the Royal Family will travel through Ratchadamnoen Avenue, not Phitsanulok Road.
But the sight of the convoy – and the abrupt use of force by the police – immediately prompted the demonstrators to shout political slogans and flashed the three-finger salute at the motorcade.
Police spokesman Kissana Phattanacharoen also said the protesters broke the laws by posing a threat to public order affecting the royal motorcade.
“I’d like to ask the demonstrators to comply with orders from law enforcement officials, stop their gathering, and go home,” Col. Kissana said.
Police have given the protesters a deadline of 10pm, which was later pushed to midnight, to disperse from Government House, or face charges. The protest is still taking place as of publication time.
The protest leaders are calling for the government’s resignation, a more democratic charter, and reforms of the monarchy.