Riot police in Thailand have used water cannons to disperse protesters trying to cut their way through razor wire hurdles outside the parliament in Bangkok as legislators debated a possible revision of the constitution.
Police forces set up barricades outside the parliament building on Nov. 17 after hundreds of royalists earlier staged demonstrations to call on lawmakers not to amend the constitution.
However, anti-government protesters have in recent months been demanding changes to the constitution drawn up by Thailand’s former military junta and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, as well as reforms to limit the powers of the monarchy.
Live television images showed police firing water cannon against an advance guard of anti-government protesters who arrived with helmets and masks as they attempted to remove the coils of wire and tossed back colored smoke bombs at police officers.
“Dictator’s lackeys!” the Free Youth protest group said in a Twitter post that came with photos of the helmeted riot police forces using the water cannon.
Thousands of people last protested in Bangkok on Nov. 14, continuing months of anti-government demonstrations that have also demanded reforms of Thailand’s powerful monarchy.
Police had banned protest rallies within 50 meters of the area, but hundreds of protesters still assembled nearby.
The development came as lawmakers were discussing several suggestions for amending the constitution, some of which would exclude the possibility of changes to the way King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s monarchy operates.
The lawmakers also debated the role of the Senate, which was entirely selected by Prayuth’s former junta and helped ensure that he held onto power with a parliamentary majority after a disputed election last year. Prayuth, however, insists that the vote was fair.
Protest rallies that began across Thailand in July initially targeted Prayuth but later called for the monarch to be more transparently accountable under the constitution and for the reversal of changes that gave the current king personal control of the royal fortune and some military units.
“Amending the constitution is going to lead to the abolition of the monarchy,” royalist leader Warong Dechgitvigrom told reporters during the demonstration on Nov. 17.
But anti-government protesters insist that they do not intend to abolish the monarchy. (PressTV.com)