“I am not resigning,” Prayuth told reporters after an emergency cabinet meeting.
“The government must use the emergency decree. We must continue because the situation has become violent… It is used for 30 days, or less if the situation improves. ”
He warned people not to violate emergency measures, saying, “Wait and see… If you do wrong, we will use the law. “
Protesters are calling for the impeachment of Prayuth, who first seized power in a 2014 coup, saying he held last year’s elections to keep power. He says the election was fair.
Protesters also want a new constitution, to replace the one drafted under military rule.
There have also been calls for reforms to the monarchy, which is accused by protesters of helping to entrench decades of military influence in politics.
The protests were largely peaceful.
The only specific incident cited by the government for imposing emergency measures was one in which Queen Suthida’s procession was taunted by protesters, but it also said the protests were damaging the economy and to national security.
Police said Friday that two men would be charged with attempted violence against the Queen, carrying a death sentence.
Protesters denounced the emergency measures and the arrest of around 40 protesters last week and are planning another protest on Friday at 5 p.m. local time in Bangkok.
The parliamentary opposition parties also condemned the emergency measures.
“The Pheu Thai Party calls on General Prayuth Chan-ocha and state officials to lift the emergency decree and stop intimidating people in any way and immediately release those who have been arrested.