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Thousands rally in Bangkok to protest against dissolution of opposition party

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Bangkok | December 15, 2019 7:41:24 AM IST
Thousands of people took to streets in Bangkok in a show of major protest after authorities moved to ban a party that has rallied opposition to the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha.

Saturday's rally took place just days after Thailand's Election Commission voted to disband the Future Forward Party (FFP), ruling that it had violated the electoral law by accepting loans from its leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a 41-year-old billionaire, Al Jazeera reported.

The case is now with the country's Constitutional Court.

Founded in 2018, the FFP stunned observers by coming third in March's controversial election, which saw Prayuth Chan-Ocha, a former military ruler, return to power as civilian prime minister. FFP supporters had then alleged that the election was "rigged" and a "sham".

"Today is a show of strength so that in the future others may come," Thanathorn, a critic of Prayuth, told the crowd.

"This is just the beginning," the leader said, pledging more protests in the future.

"We're here first as a test run. Prayuth, don't be too afraid. The real thing is next month," he added.

Held under light police presence, the rally is believed to be the biggest since a 2014 military coup first brought Prayuth to power.

Some demonstrators held up signs calling for a change of government while others shouted slogans such as "Dictatorship Out! Let Democracy Live!"

Political analysts view that Thai authorities consider Thanathorn and his progressive agendas as a significant threat to the prime minister.

FFP opponents argue that the party violated electoral laws and should be dissolved.

Late last month, Thanathorn was stripped of his parliamentarian status after the Constitutional Court found him to have broken election rules by holding media shares while campaigning in the election. Thanathorn, the scion of a billionaire car parts maker, had however denied such charges.

The military-backed establishment has filed 28 legal cases against FFP since its launch in March 2018, with Thanathorn also facing allegations of sedition, among others. (ANI)

 
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