BANGKOK (Reuters) – More than a thousand Thai anti-government protesters clashed with police on Saturday, as they protested against the government’s failure to handle coronavirus outbreaks and its impact on the economy.
The protesters marched toward Government House, the office of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, demanding his resignation.
Police sealed off a road near Victory Monument in the capital Bangkok using containers and shot tear gas and rubber bullets to push protesters back.
“We are holding this line,” police announced over loud speaker.
About a hundred officers were seen in riot gear and shields meters away from where demonstrators had gathered.
Street protests against the government have been held in recent weeks by several groups, including Prayuth’s former political allies, as frustrations mount over its management of coronavirus outbreaks and the damage pandemic measures have inflicted on the economy.
Thailand reported on Saturday a record of nearly 22,000 new COVID-19 infections in a single day and the highest deaths, 212 fatalities.
The Southeast Asian country has reported 736,522 total cases and 6,066 deaths from the coronavirus since the pandemic began last year.
Saturday’s protest was originally planned in an area near the Grand Palace in the old part of the capital but switched to the compound of the 1st Infantry Regiment, where Prayuth – a former general who originally took power in a 2014 coup – continues to live.
The protest movement began last year with demands for sweeping political change, including unprecedented public calls for the reform of the powerful monarchy to make it more accountable.
After going dormant due to prosecutions, internal disagreements and the pandemic, protests have returned in recent weeks, fueled by the growing discontent over the government’s response to the health crisis and its massive impact on the economy, which is reliant on tourism.