An anti-government group came out on Wednesday to clarify its demands, to be repeated at a rally on Sunday, after the topic of the royal institution was infused into a recent political gathering.
The Free People movement’s statement showed it is adhering to three previously made demands – for the end of intimidation of critics of the government, a start on the drafting of a new constitution, and the dissolution of the House of Representatives.
The group said it was also opposed to all attempts to stage a military coup and, if there is one, to form a national government to break a political impasse.
The statement also unveiled its dream of having a truly constitutional monarchy. The dream “is possible under the constitutional process in a democratic system which gives power to the people”, it said.
The latest statement distances the group from the rally at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus on Monday that ended with a controversial 10 demands for reform of the highest institution.
The Free People group was previously the Free Youth movement. It was renamed to expand their political base, to be more than just young demonstrators and student activists.
Its statement was issued as the group promised a large gathering at the Democracy Monument on Sunday to press its three demands. The movement has dubbed the rally the “#deadline for the end of the dictatorship”.
Some former protest leaders, politicians and security officials have warned demonstrators not to overstep their demands by touching on the royal institution.
Jatuporn Prompan, chairman of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, cautioned again in a Facebook broadcast on Tuesday that any demands that crossed the line would lead to a confrontation with the group that seeks to protect the monarchy.
Anti-government and pro-royalist members gathered in close proximity on Monday when the Committee Campaigning for a People’s Constitution petitioned its opposition allies to press for the writing of a new charter. The pro-royalist group rallied in the same area to show their determination to protect the monarchy.
Royal Thai Navy commander-in-chief Adm Luechai Ruddit was the latest of the top brass to admit, on Wednesday, he was concerned about the controversial demands made at the conclusion of the rally at the university.
He took the same tone as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha when he was asked about the demands on Tuesday and said they were inappropriate.
However, more than 100 academics from various universities have issued a statement defending the calls relating to the royal institution made on Monday. They said the demands did not put the monarchy in a negative light, and did not violate any criminal laws relating to the monarchy.
They also praised the young demonstrators for their courage in raising such a highly sensitive issue.