The Thai opposition frontman to lead a rally against the military
BANGKOK: Bangkok took place on Saturday for the first major protest since the March elections, a test of government sentiment among younger Thais called in the streets of the most popular political figure in the kingdom.
The youth-propelled (FFP) has been a thorn in the military-aligned front since the election, and the famed billionaire leader who called for a late afternoon rally is expected by the party to draw thousands— thousands.
Thailand's political scene has been dominated by violence since 2006, with street protests plummeting to blood-soaked wounds.
Under the junta rule following a coup in 2014 there was no massive rally, and the March elections - governed under a military-scripted constitution - restored junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha as prime minister.
Police told AFP on Saturday that approximately 150 unarmed officers would be placed in the Bangkok shopping mall district for the rally.
But the party did not get permission, said Bangkok police deputy chief minister Somprasong Yenthuam, who is being asked under the law.
If the rally goes well and they do not violate any laws, they can proceed, he told AFP.
The Upstart FFP garnered more than six million election votes, thanks to most Thais children tired of the military's role in politics.
Its popularity has shattered the military and its allies, and its executives have been plagued by legal misfortune since the election.
The latest threat to the party stemmed from an alleged illegal loan from Thanathorn - a lawsuit filed Friday in a court that terminated his MP position last month.
He issued a call on Facebook and Twitter, shared more than 60,000 times, urging supporters not to tolerate the current social conditions of participating in Saturday's rally.
Prayut criticized Thanathorn's plea, saying the opposition leader's disputes were personal and not another person's problem.
But Thanathorn struck out on Saturday, saying the flash mob rally was being held for the country's collective future.
The ones who have brought politics up to this point and caused conflicts are the people who cling to power, he told reporters at a university in Bangkok.
This is our social issue and our future ... we will fight it every way, Thanathorn promised.
The 41-year-old leader has repeatedly said cases against him and the FFP is politically motivated.
In 2010, the military - led by army chief Prayut - opened fire on protesters who had gathered in the city of Bangkok, killing more than 90.
Thai courts have played a key role in making political threats to the establishment and no civilian government has completed the term since 2006.
The country has seen more than a dozen coupons since 1932.