Thai prime minister says ‘illegal protests’ must be controlled as parliament opens

Thai prime minister says ‘illegal protests’ must be controlled as parliament opens

BANGKOK – Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said Thailand needs to bring “illegal protests” under control on Monday as he opened a special parliamentary session to address months of pro-democracy rallies.

Prayut, the former military chief who staged the 2014 coup, has faced increasing pressure in recent weeks from tens of thousands of protesters demanding his resignation.

The student-led rallies are also calling for a rewrite of the military-scripted constitution and an end to alleged government harassment of political opponents, as well as reform of the once-unassailable monarchy.

“Though the people have the freedom to protest based on the constitution, authorities need to control the illegal protests,” said Prayut, who recalled parliament from recess last week.

“We do not want to see clashes or riots in the country,” he said, accusing some protesters of “inappropriate actions”.

While Prayut acknowledged the protesters’ demands in his opening speech, the two-day parliamentary session has not listed them on its agenda.

But parliament will discuss an incident this month when protesters flashed three-finger salutes — a symbol of their movement — at Queen Suthida’s motorcade.