Supporters and opponents of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha attended two separate politically motivated sports events in Bangkok this morning, with each side claiming several thousand participants in attendance.
Those who oppose the Prime Minister attended the Run against Dictatorship events, held in Bangkok and several other provinces, including Chiang Mai, Phitsanuloke, Uttradit, Maha Saramham and Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Despite the opposing views on display, all the events occurred without incident.
Several members of the Future Forward party, including party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and family, and spokeswoman Pannika Chor Wanich, joined the opposition's event at the Railway Park. Pheu Thai deputy leader Kittirat na Ranong was also seen at the 3-km run.
Thanathorn told the media that he attended to be a part of history in the making, because he and the Future Forward party want to see changes for the better in Thailand.
He predicted that similar events will take place throughout this year, either to demand the full restoration of democracy or for the writing of a constitution which truly reflects the aspirations of the people.
Mr. Thanawat Wongchai, chief organizer of the anti-Prayut event, said that the next event will be held in Chiang Mai on February 2nd.
Meanwhile, the Walk to Support Uncle, organized by supporters of the Prime Minister and led by Pol Gen Dr. Rienthong Nanna, director of Mongkut Wattana hospital, was held in Lumpini Park.
He told the media that the event was not intended to incite unrest, but to offer moral support to good people in administering and restoring peace in the country.
Ms. Haruthai Ooh Muangboonsri, a staunch supporter of Prime Minister Prayut, warned that similar events would be held again, by supporters of the Gen. Prayuth, if his opponents hold such protests in the future.
The NCPO (National Council for Peace and Order or military junta) has not had any role for a long time. We are ready to protect Prime Minister Prayut because he won the election. We cast electoral ballots in the same boxes, how can we be accused of being dictatorial? asked Ms. Haruthai.
The country is now at peace and Thai people, rich or poor, can make a living as normal. You sent your kids to study in France and now your kids have returned and said Thailand should adopt the French political system. Do not brainwash our children, otherwise you will face people like us, she said, apparently, referring to French-educated Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, secretary-general of the Future Forward party and its chief ideologist.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)