Thousands of anti-government protesters took over key intersections in Bangkok yesterday, defying a ban on protests for the fourth day with chants of "down with dictatorship" and "reform the monarchy."
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former junta leader the protesters seek to oust, is concerned about the spreading protests and the government wants to talk, his spokesman said.
Demonstrations have persisted despite the arrest of dozens of protesters and their leaders, the use of water cannon and shutdowns on much of Bangkok's metro rail system in a bid to quell over three months of street action.
Prayuth's spokesman said the prime minister feared the protests, which have spread across the country of 70 million, could be used by troublemakers seeking to instigate violence.
Across Thailand, demonstrations were being organised in at least 19 other provinces yesterday. Solidarity protests were also being held or planned in Taiwan, Denmark, Sweden, France, the United States and Canada.
Meanwhile, Thailand's pro-democracy movement drew attention of influential Thai celebrities, including a K-pop superstar, beauty queens and TV personalities.
Political statements are unusual from Thai celebs, whose lucrative endorsements rely on the billionaire clans that are a pillar of the country's establishment. But some prominent figures broke cover after police fired water cannon at peaceful protesters in Bangkok on Friday.
Thai-American K-Pop idol Nichkhun, better known as the "Thai Prince", told his 6.9 million Twitter followers he cannot "stand idly by" after Friday's scenes. Amanda Obdam, the newly crowned Miss Universe Thailand, took to Instagram with pictures of a lone protester pushing against riot police wielding their shields. "Your job is to protect the people not harm them," she wrote.