Police in Thailand used teargas on protesters and blasted them with water cannon in a bid to push back a demonstration at parliament demanding constitutional changes that would touch on the powerful monarchy.
Hundreds of police officers had been watching over the demonstrators, who had gathered outside Thailand’s Parliament for the anti-government rally.
As the number of protesters increased from the hundreds to the thousands later in the day, some broke police fences and threw water bottles towards water cannon trucks and demonstrators.
Nearby, politicians began to hear seven draft constitutional amendments, which were scheduled to be voted on in a two-day joint session of the House and Senate.
The amendments are scheduled to be voted on, but it is not expected that Parliament at this point will agree on specific changes for inclusion in a new charter.
Instead, Parliament is likely to establish a constitution drafting committee to write a new charter.
This would allow the government to say it is willing to meet the protesters’ demands at least halfway, while buying time with a process that could extend over many months.
The student-led movement has staged mass rallies around the country for months and has called for substantial changes to the constitution and reforms to the monarchy.
The Parliamentary session is an effort by the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to take the initiative away from the pro-democracy movement, which wants Prayuth and his government to step down.
The protesters have alleged that Prayuth, who as army chief in 2014 led a coup that ousted an elected government, was returned to power unfairly in last year’s election because laws had been changed to favour a pro-military party.
The protesters have also said that the constitution, written and enacted under military rule, is undemocratic.