Thai demonstrators challenge monarchy as huge protests escalate

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Thousands of Thai protesters marched near the official residence of the king on Sunday to hand-deliver a letter demanding curbs on the power and budget of the royal family.

The anti-government protests began in July. Demonstrators are demanding prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who took power in a 2014 military coup, to resign. They also want reforms to the monarchy. Anyone criticising the monarchy faces between 1.5 to 15 years in jail.

The government held elections last year but they were seen as rigged, sparking public anger. The latest protests began in February after a court ordered the pro-democracy Future Forward Party to disband. However, they were delayed because of the measures imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

On Sunday, the demonstrators placed a plaque in the ground next to Thailand’s Grand Palace. According to local media, the plaque reads: “The people let it be known that our country belongs to the people – not to the king, as has been deceitfully claimed”, which references the 1932 revolution that changed the country from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy.

Authorities say 18,000 people joined Saturday’s demonstration, while others give higher figures. More rallies are planned for Thursday and protest leaders have also called for a general strike on October 14.

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