Prayut cheered by supporters and jeered by protesters in Milan
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was cheered by supporters and jeered by anti-coup protestors in Milan where he met with world leaders at the Asia-Europe Meeting.
A group of Thais with a national flag and posters were waiting for Gen Prayut when he arrived at the Starhotels Rosa Grand Wednesday, Thai News Agency reported from Milan on Thursday. They gave him flowers as his entourage arrived at the hotel.
People demonstrate against Gen Chan-o-cha on the first day of the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting on Thursday in Milan. The prime minister is due in Milan for the summit of European and Asian leaders to the fury of democracy activists, who have urged the European Union to increase its pressure on the regime. (AFP photo)
Gen Prayut said he was impressed with the greeting following reports about a planned rally against him during the Asem summit, TNA added.
The rally by Thais and Italians still took place Thursday in Milan, with demonstrators urging the European Union to increase pressure on the Thai government to restore democracy. They also demanded justice for Fabio Polenghi, an Italian photographer killed during the crackdown on red-shirt protesters on May 19, 2010.
A group of Thais shows support for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in front of the Starhotels Rosa Grand in Milan on Wednesday after he arrived for the Asia-Europe Meeting.
"There is no sign that Prayut has any intention of allowing Thailand to return to the democratic process," exiled academic and activist Junya Yimprasert said on Wednesday. "The EU should not have given him a visa to travel here and they should not be engaging with him. They should be telling him to restore democracy in Thailand immediately."
The EU has been sharply critical of the military's latest intervention in politics. The bloc suspended official visits to and from Thailand after the May coup and put a proposed new cooperation agreement with the Southeast Asian state on ice.
Despite the sanctions, EU governments agreed last month that there would be little point in preventing Gen Prayut from attending the Asem summit.
Gen Prayut on Wednesday stressed unity of officials and the private sector in talks with Thai ambassadors based in European countries and the private sector shortly after arriving in Milan.
He carried the messages to ensure Thai cooperation with the international community in the post-coup era and a pledge to restore democracy in Thailand to the summit, which was his first international meeting since taking office in August.
He was scheduled to hold talks on Thursday with Japanese Prime Minister Shizo Abe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Cambodian leader Hun Sen and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong ahead of the summit.
Gen Prayut on Wednesday urged the media not to press him on the date of new elections and indicated that reforms would be undertaken beyond the one-year timeline as it was earlier planned.