A pro-democracy group gathers people’s ‘votes’ to oust Prayut

SUNDAY, JULY 17, 2022

A pro-democracy group announced on Sunday that it was collecting “votes” from people to force Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign, a move regarded as a mock no-confidence vote in parallel with the censure debate in Parliament.

In a Facebook post, Ratsadon (The People) group announced that it was collecting signatures in 140 venues in 34 provinces to give people a chance to “vote out” Prayut.

“We may lose faith in the votes in Parliament and lose hope in the coalition, the Constitution and in the justice system, but we can’t lose hope in our own voices,” the group said in the post.

It said the signatures were being gathered in 12 venues in seven provinces in the North, 28 spots in 10 Northeast provinces, 89 spots in nine Central provinces, two venues in one West province, three venues in one East province and six spots in six provinces in the South.

The group explained that it was gathering signatures ahead of the no-confidence debate in Parliament targeting Prayut and 10 other Cabinet members. The censure debate is scheduled to run from Tuesday to Friday.

The Ratsadon group was formed by students, academics and the general public in 2020 to campaign against an attempt by coup-makers led by Prayut to perpetuate power as a civilian government.

The group held a mass rally, featuring a march from Democracy Monument to Government House on October 14, 2020, to push Prayut into resigning. The rally was dispersed the following morning and all leaders were arrested, including students Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panasaya “Rung” Sittijirawattanakul, and human-rights lawyer Arnon Nampa.

The group said the people’s votes in the mock no-confidence debate will be counted on Friday and submitted to MPs before the actual no-confidence voting in Parliament takes place on Saturday.

The group also called on people to join its “camp” outside Parliament from Tuesday to Friday to hear the censure debate.

Meanwhile, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Sunday that the 11 censure targets will be able to answer all questions raised by the opposition during the debate.

Thanakorn also said the opposition should back its allegations with evidence instead of making groundless accusations during the debate.

He added that the opposition has been boasting that this censure debate will see at least one or two ministers being voted out, but added that he doubts any evidence will be presented.

“I think opposition MPs stand to lose the next election because they will be seen by voters as causing confusion instead of supporting the country’s development,” the spokesman said.

He added that he expects the opposition MPs to “lose face” after the censure targets manage to answer their questions. He also said they will not be able to “shock” the premier with the corruption information they claim to have.