BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai opposition party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit called for a peaceful protest on Saturday after asking supporters to mobilize in the face of a possible ban on his Future Forward party.
Thanathorn, 41, has emerged as the most outspoken opponent of the government headed by former junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, 65, since elections in March that the opposition said were manipulated to favor the army.
“We reject all kinds of violence, be it from the demonstrators or be it from government officials,” Thanathorn told reporters ahead of a protest due to start at 5 p.m. (1000 GMT) in Bangkok.
“We believe that it’s time for the people who will not tolerate any more the NCPO regime to show themselves, to show their willingness to participate in politics,” he said, referring to the name of the former junta, The National Council for Peace and Order.
The call by Thanathorn for supporters to mobilize has revived memories of the spasms of protest in Bangkok over the past two decades of turbulent politics that were interrupted by coups in 2006 and 2014.
Thanathorn said he did not want to revive those disturbances or to call protests like those that have rocked Hong Kong this year.
Police in the Bangkok district to which Thanathorn has called his followers to gather said they had not received a request for a gathering in line with a law on public meetings, but have not said they would try to block it.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters it was inappropriate to organize a demonstration towards the end of the year.
Thailand’s election panel has asked the Constitutional Court to dissolve the Future Forward Party, accusing it of infringing laws governing political parties by accepting multi-million dollar loans from its leader Thanathorn.
Last month, the Constitutional Court found Thanathorn guilty of holding shares in a media company on the date his candidacy was registered for the election, disqualifying him as a member of parliament. Thanathorn disputed the ruling.
On Saturday, Thanathorn signed an agreement with six parties in an opposition alliance to push for changes to the constitution that was drawn up by the junta before the elections.
Editing by Michael Perry
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