Thailand’s parliament has voted to delay until November a decision on whether it will amend the constitution as more than 1,000 protesters demanded reforms outside the building.
The vote took place on Thursday after a two-day special session with the legislative body setting up a committee to study the process of the constitutional amendment first, Chinnaworn Boonyakiat, a member of parliament, told Reuters news agency.
“The vote to accept a motion for constitutional changes is effectively delayed to November,” he said.
The decision took place while the protesters rallied at parliament demanding constitutional changes, which is one of the demands behind nearly two months of daily demonstrations.
The proposal was not welcomed by protesters and was met with resistance from opposition parties.
“Do you hear the people? Or is the building so thick?” Anon Nampa, one of the protest leaders, said.
The demonstrators are seeking to change a constitution they say was engineered to ensure former military leader Prayuth Chan-ocha stayed on as prime minister after last year’s election.
Student protest leader Panupong Jadnok, also known as Mike Rayong, during a mass rally to call for the removal of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and reforms in the monarchy in front of parliament in Bangkok [Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]Protesters, who gathered in their biggest rallies in years on Sunday with tens of thousands of people, are also calling for the removal of the prime minister, new elections and a reduction of King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s power.
Increasing criticism against Prayuth’s government comes as it struggles to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Influential Thai royalists are also putting pressure on the government as they feel chagrined by protesters’ request to seek unprecedented reforms to the monarchy, a sacrosanct institution to conservatives.
The current charter was written under the auspices of the military government that took power after a 2014 coup and pushed it through in a referendum in which campaigning for a “no” vote was illegal.
Prayuth led that coup, headed the military government and was named prime minister again after last year’s general election, held under the rules laid out by the new charter.