King speaks to foreign media in unprecedented move . . .
Thai pro-democracy protests, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a reform of the monarchy, and a rewriting of the Constitution, continue to sweep the nation. King Maha Vajiralongkorn made his first public comments about the demonstrations in an interview with CNN and Channel 4 News on Sunday, stating that “we love them all the same” and that “Thailand is the land of compromise.” The King had not spoken with foreign media since 1979 when he was Crown Prince. Some speculate that foreign media were invited to interview the King because he is attempting to improve his international image amid the ongoing protests.
Tensions rise between Thailand and Germany . . .
On October 26, protesters marched to the German Embassy to deliver a letter asking the Germans to release information on the King’s arrivals and departures from Germany. The King spends most of his time in Germany, and protesters are attempting to spark an investigation into whether the King has conducted Thai state business while on German soil. If that is established, it would be in violation of German law. On Monday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that “we are continuing to examine [the King’s activities] in the long term, and if there are things we feel to be unlawful, then that will have immediate consequences.”
What comes next . . .
The Thai Parliament has announced plans to form a “reconciliation committee” meant to bring together protesters and parliamentarians to discuss the pro-democracy demonstrators' demands. However, protesters released a statement today rejecting the committee and calling it a “political ploy to buy time.” Their view is that a committee would be meaningless without the prime minister’s resignation, adding, “all of the problems can’t be resolved if Prayuth doesn’t quit.” Some experts are concerned that a military coup might be looming. Last Friday, the Prime Minister said that he was not able to determine whether “there will be a coup or there won’t be a coup,” but that “no one wants to do it, no one wants to stage one.”