BANGKOK - Anti-government protesters planned more demonstrations on Friday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, as lawmakers challenged the premier and five ministers over their handling of the coronavirus crisis on the last day of a house censure debate.
Activists vowed to protest daily until Prayuth leaves office, after staging one of this year's biggest rallies on Thursday at the Asoke intersection in central Bangkok, defying a ban on big gatherings in place to contain a COVID-19 outbreak.
"We will use Asoke as a fort to hold activities against Prayuth every day," said a protest organizer, Sombat Boonngamanong.
"We will do this every day until Prayuth resigns," he said.
The protests have gathered steam since late June as university students who sought Prayuth's removal last year return with broader support from other political groups and people angered by a worsening coronavirus situation.
The overwhelming majority of Thailand's 1.24 million cases and 12,374 deaths came after April, following a year of successful containment. It has since been hit by the Alpha and Delta variants and has struggled to get hold of enough vaccines.
More than 600 people face protest-related charges for various violations in July and August, police said on Friday.
A big rally is planned for Saturday, when a confidence vote is scheduled in parliament, which is expected to go Prayuth's way because of his coalition's clear majority.
Former army chief and 2014 coup leader Prayuth and his ministers have rejected the opposition's allegations of corruption, economic mismanagement and a bungled coronavirus response.
Prayuth on Friday said he will neither resign nor call a snap election.
"The country has to move forward," he told reporters.
"As long as the people want me, I will continue to move forward."