Thai police, protesters clash over handling of pandemic

BANGKOK (AP) — Thai police and anti-government protesters clashed for a second straight day in Bangkok on Monday, as anger over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic continues to simmer.

Police in riot gear fired a water cannon and tear gas to force back about 200 protesters as they approached Government House, where Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has an office. The organizers called off the rally soon afterward.

Later, there were more disturbances in the Din Daeng area of the city when a group of young protesters tried to move toward an army base where Prayuth has his residence. There have been repeated clashes in the built-up urban area in the past 10 days.

The demonstrators are calling for Prayuth’s resignation over his perceived bungling of the government’s coronavirus vaccination program. Infections have surged in the past few weeks while vaccination rates remain low.

The protests are also part of a wider push for sweeping political change that includes the resignation of the government, a new constitution and -– most contentious of all -– fundamental reform of the powerful but opaque monarchy.