Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called on anti-government groups to end street protests in Bangkok after agreeing to their demand to scrap a controversial amnesty bill.
“Today, the amnesty draft bill has ended,” Yingluck said in a televised speech. “We have withdrawn everything.”
The parliament scrapped six amnesty proposals today, and the Senate is scheduled to vote on a seventh at 2 p.m. tomorrow. Senate Speaker Nikom Wairatpanij said most senators will vote against that bill, and Yingluck has said the government won’t seek to revive the draft law if it is rejected by the Senate.
Thousands of people joined protests in four different parts of the Thai capital today to pressure the government to scrap the legislative push. Critics of the bill argued that an amnesty wouldn’t heal social divisions if it also exonerated politicians such as Yingluck’s brother Thaksin Shinawatra, or leaders who oversaw a deadly crackdown on demonstrators in 2010.
“I would like to beg the public to end the protests,” Yingluck said. “We respect the public’s intention and we respect the public’s voice. We have confirmed that we will absolutely not reconsider this law.”
The legislative push has hurt stocks and the baht amid concern it will spark fresh clashes in a country where past protests by Thaksin’s supporters and opponents have led to an airport seizure, business center blockages and arson attacks.
The law would have applied to protesters, soldiers and politicians involved in political clashes since the 2006 coup that toppled Thaksin, as well as people accused of wrongdoing by state agencies established after the coup.
The bill angered Thaksin’s opponents, who said the law would whitewash crimes he committed while in power, while some of Thaksin’s former supporters criticized the bill for protecting opposition Democrat party leaders who allowed the army to use live ammunition to disperse protesters in 2010.
The amnesty law wouldn’t apply to people charged for lese-majeste, which mandates jail sentences as long as 15 years for defaming, insulting or threatening the king, queen, heir apparent or regent.