Authorities block Bangkok march on coup anniversary

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A pro-democracy protester shouts at police officers during a political gathering in Bangkok, Tuesday, May 22. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
A pro-democracy protester shouts at police officers during a political gathering in Bangkok, Tuesday, May 22. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Bangkok (AP) — Police in Bangkok blocked a march Tuesday by pro-democracy activists protesting four years of military rule and calling for elections this year.

About 3,200 officers were deployed to prevent about 200 protesters from marching from a Bangkok university campus to Government House.

Faced with barricades, a tropical downpour and lines of police, the protesters dueled with authorities by loudspeaker, trying to outshout police warnings that the demonstration would tarnish Thailand’s image, scare tourists and cause congestion. Activist Seriwith Seritiwat said the protesters would “never back down.”

Tempers briefly flared as protesters and police pushed at each other for a few minutes but there appeared to be no arrests.

Tuesday was the fourth anniversary of the bloodless coup in 2014 that toppled the elected government.

The protesters, mainly middle-aged and elderly and led by a core of student activists, have been holding regular rallies for the last few months, calling for the standing government to stand down and hold elections.

Political gatherings of five or more people are banned by the government while the most recent promise of elections is for February next year.