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Thai's Embattled PM Recalls Parliament amid Protests

Pro-democracy protesters show the three-finger salute during an anti-government protest, in Bangkok, Thailand, Oct. 19, 2020.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Bangkok Monday for the fifth straight day, defying a ban on gatherings of more than four people and demanding the resignation of Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-Cha.

Prayuth seized power in a military coup in 2014.

The protesters, mostly students, have also called for changes to the monarchy — a seemingly untouchable institution in Thailand where insulting royalty can result in criminal charges.

Demonstrations were held in three separate locations in Bangkok on Monday, with protesters brandishing a three-finger salute borrowed from the “Hunger Games” movies, which has come to symbolize the pro-Democracy movement.

Prayuth recalled Parliament, currently in recess, on Monday to discuss how to reduce tension and quell the protests. He also cautioned protesters not to break the law, saying the government hoped for peaceful protests.

But scuffles broke out between protesters and pro-monarchy supporters last week, and crowds on Friday were dispersed with water cannon. Over the weekend and on Monday, demonstrations were largely peaceful.

The latest wave of protests began in February when the Future Forward Party (FFP), a progressive party largely supported by young Thais, was dissolved by court order. Protests were then halted due to COVID-19 concerns, but regained energy in July, despite a ban on large gatherings.