Thai protesters rally as parliament considers constitution changes

Pro-democracy protesters attend a mass rally to call for the ouster of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and reforms in the monarchy in front of parliament in Bangkok, Thailand

More than a thousand Thai protesters rallied at parliament on Thursday as it debated amending the constitution, one of the demands behind nearly two months of almost daily demonstrations.

The two-day special session of parliament was convened on Wednesday and was expected to vote late on Thursday on whether to accept a motion for constitutional changes.

But a lawmaker aligned with the government proposed that the vote be postponed to November and that a new committee be set up to study details around the process of making such changes first.

The proposal was met with resistance from opposition parties. It also angered the protesters.

“Do you hear the people? Or is the building so thick?” said Anon Nampa, one of the protest leaders.

The demonstrators seek to change a constitution they say was engineered to ensure former junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha stayed on as prime minister after last year’s election.

They want his departure and some protesters also say the constitution gives too much power to King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

The biggest demonstration so far drew tens of thousands of people at the weekend.

The 2017 constitution was written by a military-appointed committee and passed a nationwide referendum in 2016 at which opposition campaigning was banned.

Prayuth said the 2019 election was fair.

On Wednesday, hundreds of royalist from the Thai Pakdee group marched to the parliament to submit a petition opposing constitutional change.

The assembly combines an elected lower House of Representatives and a military-appointed Senate.

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