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Thailand protests rage on as lawmakers reject reforms demanded by pro-democracy movement

Thailand protests continue
Thailand protests continue 02:31

Thousands of protesters returned to the streets of Thailand's capital on Wednesday, hours after a protest outside the parliament led to clashes with police that left 55 people injured. The pro-democracy protesters are demanding reforms of the country's military-backed government, military-drafted constitution, and its all-powerful monarchy. 

As the protesters hit the streets again on Wednesday, the Thai parliament voted on seven potential changes to the constitution. Two were adopted, but they only allow for more discussion about real changes. In effect, the adopted measures will only buy the government more time — and make the protesters even more frustrated. 

One of the pro-democracy movement's key demands is that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha step down. As a general in the Thai army, he led a bloodless coup in 2014 that brought him to power. 

Thai protesters defy ban on gatherings 03:18

Another proposed reform, aimed at reining in the powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, did not pass. That was no surprise: Thailand's monarch has traditionally been considered god-like, and untouchable by laws. 

But those views are changing. The king only inherited the throne four years ago, and he is not well liked. He's considered by some to be corrupt and a playboy. He spends most of his time in Germany, not Thailand, which also upsets many in the country.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his consort, General Suthida Vajiralongkorn named Queen Suthida attend their wedding ceremony in Bangkok
King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his consort, General Suthida Vajiralongkorn, named Queen Suthida, attend their wedding ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand, May 1, 2019. HANDOUT/REUTERS

Tuesday's violence was the worst since these protests reignited in July. Police fired water cannons and tear gas at protesters who were trying to force their way to parliament.

Some protesters defended themselves with big rubber ducks — which looked very out of place for a political protest. They reportedly had hoped to use them to float past parliament and around the police cordon. 

Demonstrators carry inflatable rubber ducks during a rally in Bangkok
Demonstrators carry inflatable rubber ducks during a pro-democracy protest in Bangkok, Thailand, November 18, 2020. ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA / REUTERS

After the parliamentary votes on Wednesday, which effectively saw none of the protesters' demands met, the demonstrations were likely to continue.

Thailand's king has called his country a "land of compromise," but so far, there's been little action from the government to demonstrate that trait. 

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