A reported 10,000 supporters of a Thai opposition party which could be banned by authorities have taken to the streets in the country’s biggest protest since a 2014 military coup.
Speaking to activists in the capital Bangkok, the 41-year-old billionaire leader of Future Forward, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkrit, urged people to stand up against the government and fight for democracy.
He told them “this is just the beginning” and “I think it shows that people will not tolerate dictatorship anymore”.
Many demonstrators gave the three-finger salute of resistance, a symbol taken from the Hollywood film The Hunger Games.
Legal moves to dissolve the party have angered supporters who believe there is a conspiracy against it.
In 2014, the military staged a coup led by army general Prayuth Chan-ocha, the current prime minister, who seized power on promises to end a wave of street protests.
Earlier this year in the first general election since the coup, Future Forward came from nowhere to finish third.
Its anti-military agenda has found support among young people but has angered the country’s conservative establishment, known as the junta.
On Saturday, Mr Thanathorn signed an agreement on Saturday with six parties in an opposition alliance to push for changes to the constitution drawn up by the junta before the election.
Among those parties was Pheu Thai, linked to ousted populist leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in self-exile since he was overthrown in 2006. His sister Yingluck Shinawatra was ousted as prime minister by 65-year-old Mr Prayuth.
Pheu Thai won the most seats in the 500-member lower house but has adopted a quieter approach to challenging the government than Future Forward.
Palang Pracharat, the pro-military party formed last year by members of the junta’s cabinet, came second.
The crowd in Bangkok included veteran “red shirt” supporters of Mr Thaksin, who had previously clashed with the “yellow shirt” conservatives – hardline loyalists of the palace and army.
Since the election, Fast Forward has faced a number of legal cases, including a ruling last month by the constitutional court which saw Mr Thanathorn disqualified as a member of parliament for violating media ownership regulation.
He allegedly held shares in a media company on the date his election candidacy was registered but he has disputed the ruling.
And last Wednesday, the election commission ruled Future Forward broke the law by accepting an illegal loan from Mr Thanathorn and recommended it should be dissolved.
There are not many Thais who expect the constitutional court, which is seen as being closely linked with the establishment, to disagree.
A Fast Forward spokeswoman claimed more than 10,000 people had taken part in Saturday’s demonstration, but authorities have not provided a figure.
Political battles caused serious turmoil in Thailand from 2006 to 2014, including two coups and massive street protests involving different groups, police and the military.
Emmanuel Macron filmed yelling at security guards during Jerusalem church visit | World News
Emmanuel Macron has been filmed yelling at Israeli security guards and telling them to “go out” during his visit to a church in Jerusalem.
The French president was surrounded by guards in the doorway of the Church of St Anne when he shouted: “We know perfectly, everybody knows the rules.”
“I don’t like what you did in front of me,” he added, while pointing to one of the security guards.
“Go out,” he said. “Outside.”
Mr Macron visited the basilica on Wednesday ahead of a Holocaust memorial conference in the city.
The sandstone structure, which was gifted to French emperor Napoleon III from the Ottomans in 1856, sits in a section of the city annexed by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
It is considered a provocation by France if Israeli police enter the premises.
The spat on Wednesday was not the first of its kind between Israeli security and a French president.
Jacques Chirac, the country’s former president who died in September, also had an altercation with guards in the city in 1996, where he shouted: “What do you want – me to get back on my plane and go back to France?”
Mr Macron has since told reporters his incident was just “a minor irritation” and highlighted an agreement that Israeli guards escort him to the door, before being replaced by a French detail.
But a joint statement from the Israeli police and Shin Bet security agency said “there was a discussion” upon Mr Macron’s arrival, and the guards had escorted him inside “based on the terms agreed upon ahead of time”.
It added: “When the president and the delegation finished the visit, he apologised about the incident and shook hands with the security personnel and continued his scheduled visit in the old city with security guards.”
China coronavirus: Britons advised against travel to outbreak epicentre of Wuhan | World News
The UK Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to the Chinese city of Wuhan after a new virus killed 17 and infected hundreds.
Wuhan’s local transport networks – including bus, subway and ferries – will also be suspended from 10am on Thursday, and airport and train stations closed to outgoing passengers.
Authorities are asking citizens not to leave unless there are special circumstances, said state media.
Screening is in place at major US airports, while Britain’s transport secretary said a separate area was being set up at London Heathrow to monitor arrivals from the city.
More than 500 cases of the new coronavirus have so far been confirmed by Chinese authorities.
The first case in the US was identified this week, while others have been diagnosed in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
All of them had been to Wuhan – the Chinese city with an 11 million population where the virus is believed to have started – with illegally trafficked animals at a market being named as the likely source.
Symptoms include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing.
More serious cases could lead to deadly conditions such as pneumonia and kidney failure.
Concerns are growing as hundreds of millions of people in China prepare to travel for the Lunar New Year holiday, which starts on Saturday.
The Foreign Office said travellers should not visit Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, “due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak”.
Public Health England (PHE) has revised the coronavirus risk from “very low” to “low”.
Sales of surgical masks have increased in China and some people are cancelling trips and avoiding public places, as cases of the virus show up in Beijing and Shanghai.
Taiwan has joined Australia in telling its citizens to avoid Wuhan, while North Korea has banned foreign tourists – most of whom are Chinese.
Singapore is also among the countries that have started screening all passengers arriving on flights from China – with heat-detecting guns scanning people for signs of fever.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to severe diseases such as SARS – which killed nearly 800 people during the 2002-03 outbreak.
When a new strain emerges that has not yet been identified, as with the current outbreak, it becomes known as a novel coronavirus (nCoV).
Chinese state media say the latest strain is different from those identified in the past, but have confirmed it can be passed from person to person.
All coronaviruses are also zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.
There are no reliable vaccines. The best someone can do is take medicines and treatments for specific symptoms.
Storm Gloria: Hunt for missing Briton, 25, who vanished during Ibiza motorbike trip | World News
A land and sea search is under way to find a British man who vanished during a deadly storm that has ripped through Ibiza.
The 25-year-old had been spending his day off riding his motorbike around the north of the Balearic island and was reported missing by a colleague when he failed to return.
His colleague later went out to search for his friend and found the bike.
Spanish helpline service 112 Emergency said the man is believed to have disappeared around the remote Portinatx area of Sant Joan de Labritja at the northernmost point of the island.
A multi-agency search and rescue operation has since been launched on land and sea, and is being carried out by local police and the Guardia Civil.
The Briton is one of three people to vanish in mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands in the last four days after Storm Gloria tore across the Mediterranean coast.
A further eight people have died due to the storm, which ranks as the worst sea storm since 2003 “and likely of this century”, according to Dani Palacios, head of beach services for Barcelona in the northeast.
It brought winds of up to 90mph (144kmh) and stirred up huge waves of up to 13.5m (44ft) at its peak.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been left without power and weather alerts are still in place across three dozen provinces.
According to Spanish authorities and rescue teams, one body was found in a river in Alicante, while another person died after a building collapsed in Alcoy, which was believed to have been caused by heavy rainfall.
One man was killed after hailstones smashed through a greenhouse he was working in, according to the mayor of Almeria province, and a homeless man in Valencia is said to have died from low temperatures.
In a statement on Tuesday, 112 Emergency warned residents keep away from the coastal areas as it “can cause you to be hit by a sea storm.”
It added: “Don’t stop to watch the waves and get away from breakwaters, boardwalks and other places where the waves may break nearby. Find a safe place.”
Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted: “Solidarity and government support to the families of the victims of the #BorrascaGloria and to those who are suffering the fatal consequences of this storm.
“I reiterate my thanks to the emergency services that work tirelessly to help the population.”
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