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Thai protesters challenge king’s military command

BANGKOK — Thai anti-government protesters challenged on Sunday King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s personal control over some army units to condemn the military’s role in politics.

It was the latest open defiance of the king by protesters, who have broken taboos by criticizing the monarchy in a country where it is officially revered under the constitution and laws to ban insulting it.

Hundreds of protesters gathered to march to the 11th Infantry Regiment, one of two units that were moved under the king’s command in 2019.

“An army should belong to the people, not the king,” Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak told reporters. “In a democratic system, the king is not responsible for directing command of the military.”

Protesters accuse the monarchy of enabling decades of military domination.

Parit is among several protest leaders who already face charges under lese majeste laws against insulting the monarchy after his speeches at previous rallies.

Protests which began in July initially demanded the departure of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former junta leader, and a new constitution, but now also seek to curb the powers of the king.

At the barracks, an advance guard of protesters set about removing razor wire barricades.

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