'Please resign,' Thai opposition tells PM at protest debate


Opposition leader from Pheu Thai Party, Sompong Amornwat delivers a speech during a special session at the parliament in Bangkok, Thailand on Monday (Oct 26, 2020). Thailand's Parliament began a special session Monday that was called to address tensions as pro-democracy protests draw students and other demonstrators into the streets almost daily demanding the prime minister's resignation. - AP

BANGKOK, Oct 26 (Reuters): Thailand's biggest opposition party called on Monday for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O-Cha to resign, as parliament opened a special session called by the former junta leader to discuss months of protests.

Student-led demonstrations which initially demanded the departure of Prayut and a new constitution have increasingly turned their attention to the monarchy, calling for reforms to curb the powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

"The prime minister is a major obstacle and burden to the country. Please resign and everything will end well," said Sompong Amornvivat, leader of the opposition Pheu Thai party, the largest single party in parliament.

Prayut called the parliament session this week after the imposition of Oct 15 emergency measures to end the demonstrations - including a ban on protests - only inflamed anger and brought tens of thousands onto Bangkok streets.

"I’m confident that today, regardless of our different political views, everyone still loves the country," Prayut said in his opening address.

But his opponents and protest leaders are sceptical the parliamentary session will resolve the crisis. His supporters have a majority in parliament, whose entire upper house was picked by his former junta.

Prayut seized power in 2014, overthrowing elected Pheu Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of populist former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, whose struggles with the establishment unleashed more than a decade of turbulence.

Protesters accuse Prayut of engineering last year's election to keep the army's grip on power. He says the election was fair.

Breaking a long-standing taboo, protesters have also called for the king's powers to be reduced, saying the monarchy has helped enable decades of military domination. The Palace has made no comment since the start of the protests.

Protesters are due to march to the German embassy at 5pm and have said they will petition Berlin to investigate the king's use of his powers while in the European nation, where he spends much of his time.

They have not said exactly they believe the king has done. The German government has said it would be unacceptable to conduct politics from there. - Reuters
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