Anti-government protesters yesterday broke into smaller groups around Bangkok, utilising a new tactic that disrupted the capital’s key public transport services, including its entire electric rail system.

Early yesterday morning, 2020 Khana Ratsadon, a group leading the anti-government movement, announced on social media it had been dissolved, saying every protester is now a “co-protest leader”.

A second announcement followed, calling on protesters to gather at every BTS station, while the Lat Phrao intersection, BTS Udomsuk station and Wong Wian Yai were declared as yesterday’s key gathering sites.

A third announcement prompted all electric train stations in the city to be abruptly closed. The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) also told its bus drivers to avoid routes heading to the Victory Monument.

All BMTA bus lines resumed their normal routes by about 8am after protesters had dispersed, while all electric rail routes resumed operation about 8.30am, as ordered by the police.

Police, meanwhile, erected metal barriers around the monument and began seizing control of areas from the monument to the MRT Chatuchak station.

At the Lat Phrao intersection, about 8,000 protesters, who came to the spot by foot, gathered later in the afternoon and blocked traffic in the area. They yelled demands for the government to resign.

The gathering later prompted Central Plaza Ladprao, a shopping mall located near the intersection, to shut its doors by 6pm, about an hour before the protesters at this rally site were dispersed.

At Ramkhamhaeng University, where about 1,000 gathered, Panupong Jadnok, aka Mike Rayong, a key protester leader, reiterated the anti-government movement’s demand for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign and a new constitution be drafted which returned power to the people.

He said protesters are looking forward to seeing someone who can make them live happily and lead the new government.

He dismissed reports that Thanathorn Juangroong­ruangkit and Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, co-founders of the Progressive Movement, were pulling strings behind the anti-government movement.

The number of protesters escalated to about 8,000 at Wong Wian Yai at the rally’s peak, while the number of protesters gathering from the BTS Udom Suk station to the Bang Na intersection was about 6,000, according to the Metropolitan Police Bureau.

Elsewhere in the city, about 300 people gathered at Samyan Mitrtown near Chulalongkorn University, another 100 at BTS Asoke station and another 300 at MRT Khae Rai station in Nonthaburi.

Similar gatherings were reported in 17 other provinces, including Ubon Ratchathani, Chon Buri, Nakhon Pathom, Phayao, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Sawan, Khon Kaen, Kalasin, Uttaradit, Trang and Udon Thani.

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