Royalists clash with protesters during an anti-govt protest outside the parliament in Bangkok. Reuters
Gulf Today Report
Thai democracy protesters are set to return to the streets of Bangkok on Wednesday as MPs voted with most of them opposed to a demand from protesters for a proposal that could mean changes to the role of the powerful monarchy.
A day after six people were shot with live rounds in violent clashes, lawmakers prepared to vote on possible constitutional reforms.
The vote comes after the most violent day since July of youth-led protests that seek to rewrite the constitution, to remove Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha — a former junta leader — and to reform King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s monarchy.
A day earlier, in the most violent confrontations seen since the pro-democracy movement kicked off in July, police used tear gas and water cannon on demonstrators, and protesters clashed with royalists near parliament.
Prayuth’s supporters have a majority in the parliament, where the entire upper house Senate was appointed by the junta he led after a 2014 coup.
Some in the crowd were shot, according to medical workers, though it was unclear who opened fire.
“We need to protect the monarch,” senator Seri Suwanphanon said as he spoke against the iLaw proposal, which is backed by protesters and many opposition members of parliament.
“If we want solutions for our country, we need to adopt the iLaw draft,” said Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the opposition Move Forward Party.
“While we were sitting in an air-conditioned room, officers used violence on many people,” he said referring to protests outside parliament on Tuesday that left at least 55 people hurt, several with gunshot wounds.
Bangkok police deputy commissioner Piya Tavichai said officers are investigating the shootings, which happened about 300 metres (yards) from the main protest zone.
He said one royalist supporters was shot in the hip and a pro-democracy protester in the leg.
"The rest of shooting victims are still under investigation, but the fact was both sides were shot and wounded," he told reporters Wednesday.
Bangkok has been rocked since July by youth-led rallies demanding a constitutional overhaul and the removal of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who took power in a 2014 coup.
Some in the movement have also called for reforms to the monarchy -- a once-taboo subject.
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