Authorities opposed the protest with all available police forces, special services and the army. “The Thai authorities have stated they will not run in the by-elections, but will continue to do so.
Three top activists were also among the two dozen people arrested under a decree banning gatherings of more than four people after months of student-led protests against the government.
A day later protesters challenged a royal motorcar – which presented a three-finger salute from “The Hunger Games” books and films – to perform an unprecedentedly rude act against the monarchy.
After emergency measures were announced as early as Thursday, riot police dispersed hundreds of protesters who had camped overnight outside the prime minister’s office in Bangkok.
Army spokesman Lieutenant-General Sentipong Thampia described the presence of military officers around some government buildings and wrote on Facebook that they were there to “help enforce the law.”
Premier Priyat Chan-o-cha was the army chief, while the military seized power in the 2014 uprising as a civilian, before winning disputed elections in March last year.
Another prominent activist, whose arrest was kept alive on Facebook, was also the so-called student leader Parit Chivarak.
Anan Numpa, another senior member of the protest movement, said he had been forcibly taken by helicopter to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand “without my lawyer”.
“This is a violation of my rights and extremely dangerous for me,” he wrote on Facebook.
It was not immediately clear how the detainees were accessing their social media accounts.
In addition to limiting the number of people to four, the new emergency measures also “allow the seizure of electronic communications equipment, data and weapons suspected of causing a state of emergency,” a government spokesman said.
“This is to ban gatherings of five or more people … and orders to ban the distribution of news through electronic media,” the spokesman said in a statement.
– ‘Fans across the country’ –
Thousands of protesters marched on Wednesday around the Democratic Monument in Bangkok after King Maha Vajillongkorn and his family drove in front of a royal motorcar.
Police had overrun most of the opponents of the royal way, when present in dozens of passing motor car. Queen Suthida, sitting next to Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, watched from the window of the limousine as protesters waved a three-finger salute.
Such challenges to the monarchy are unheard of in Thailand, where the influence of the royal family carries every aspect of society.
Leading opposition figure Thanath Orn Juangrongroangkit denied the sabotage, and called on the government to “release all those arrested”.
He said the government would have to find a quick way to respond to the demands of the protesters, otherwise the situation would worsen across the country.
Student leaders stood up on social media on Thursday to urge supporters to take to the streets, but there was no immediate indication that the call was being heeded.
“Implement – just moral support from home is not enough,” said the Free Youth Movement, which has organized large demonstrations in recent months.
After Thailand’s top trending Twitter hashtag urged people to gather there, police said they would set up outposts around the crack crack junction junction in 2010.
The king spends most of his time in Europe, but in recent days has been in Thailand for the annual Buddhist festival and the anniversary of his father’s death.
Very wealthy, he is backed by a powerful army – which has long positioned itself as a defender of the monarchy – as well as the establishment elite.
Turbulent history –
There have been many popular uprisings in Thailand’s tumultuous modern history, which have endured a long period of political unrest since 1932 and more than a dozen military forces.
In recent protests, leaders have repeatedly stated that they simply want the monarchy to be comfortable in modern times.
Their demands include the abolition of strict imperial defamation laws – which protect the king from criticism – and keep the monarchy out of politics.
Dozens of activists have been arrested, charged with treason and released on bail since the recent protests began.
Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisari said the prime minister had on Wednesday ordered police to file charges against “protesters who obstructed the royal motorcar”.
“They must face legal action without exception.”
Bur / fox