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Thai activists in Pinocchio masks call junta leader ‘liar’

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Hundreds of pro-democracy activists in Thailand wore cartoon masks portraying the nation’s junta leader with a protracted nostril on Saturday, calling him a “liar” for delaying a common election promised this 12 months.

The junta has promised and postponed elections a number of instances because it got here to energy following a coup in 2014, with the newest date set for November. The military-appointed legislature modified the election regulation final month, signaling one other delay to early 2019.

That sparked a collection of anti-junta, pro-election protests which have gained momentum in latest weeks with gatherings going down in a number of provinces throughout Thailand.

On Saturday, round 300 activists congregated at Bangkok’s Thammasat University, sporting and distributing paper masks resembling Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to Pinocchio.

One of them, Sirawith Seritiwat, mentioned the masks was known as Yuth-nocchio – a reference to the notorious fictional character whose nostril will get longer each time he lies.

“Enough with the lies. Time’s up for dictatorship. It’s the people’s time now. We must vote this year,” Sirawith advised the crowd.

Activists additionally held up three fingers, which they mentioned symbolized their calls for in the slogan: “Elections must take place this year. Down with dictatorship. Long live democracy.”

A Pro-democracy activist holds up a masks to mock Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as Pinocchio throughout a protest in opposition to junta at a college in Bangkok, Thailand, February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Panumas Sanguanwong

Around 100 cops had been deployed on the college however they didn’t intrude with the occasion.

Officials have to this point not commented on the newest spate of protests, however final week a spokesman for the junta mentioned it was not involved by the protests and would depend on the police to take care of peace and order.

Prayuth mentioned earlier this week younger activists ought to give attention to their research and “not think they have to change the country.”

Protests are deliberate for each Saturday in March and May in Bangkok and different provinces, with a big gathering between May 19-22 to mark the four-year anniversary of the coup.

“We urge everyone in the country to come out and join us,” mentioned Rangsiman Rome, one other activist in Bangkok.

“It’s time to take back our future. Prayuth and Prawit must go,” he added, referring to a different junta leader Prawit Wongsuwan.

Watana Muangsook, a member of the Puea Thai social gathering which has gained each election in the final decade, additionally got here to Saturday’s gathering “to show support” to the activists.

“People have the right to demand elections,” Wattana mentioned.

The junta lodged a lawsuit final week in opposition to seven activists for inciting unrest and 43 protesters for unlawful gathering after a protest final month on the Democracy Monument in Bangkok that additionally concerned a whole lot of activists.

Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; modifying by Clelia Oziel

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