Thousands of protesters take to streets of Bangkok despite government warning

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Pro-democracy protesters gather during a protest in Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020.
Pro-democracy protesters gather during a protest in Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020.   -  Copyright  Sakchai Lalit/AP

Crowds of anti-government protesters gathered at closed mass transit stations across Bangkok on Saturday, as Thailand's capital faced a fourth straight day of demonstrations.

The protesters were calling for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to leave office, the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic and the nation’s monarchy to undergo reform.

The protests went ahead in defiance of a state of emergency imposed on Thursday.

All stations of Bangkok's elevated Skytrain mass transit system were ordered closed on Saturday afternoon in an effort to thwart protests.

A line of the underground MRT system was also shut, and police blocked off several roads.

Protesters met anyway and marched or took taxis to several rally points spread through the city, where several thousand eventually gathered in each spot to voice their demands and chant against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Organisers had called for their followers to meet at Skytrain stations pending further instructions.

Groups of protesters met at many of the stations that were closed, in effect establishing a protest presence across the city.

In a further twist, organisers issued a fresh advisory for followers to gather at three stations outside the city's central area, where access was easier, especially for people living in the suburbs.

The protesters have been doing their best to elude the authorities, using social media to assemble followers before the police have time to block them.

The government has announced plans to take legal action against Twitter and Facebook accounts that announce the protests, but fresh calls to action were posted on Saturday.

Police on Friday had also tried to block demonstrators but failed when protest organisers announced a last-minute switch of venue.