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Junta downplays surveillance of Pheu Thai politician as she campaigns

Jan 28. 2019
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By Jittraporn Senawongse
The Nation

A junta spokesman on Monday tried to downplay criticism after a video clip showed a Pheu Thai leader talking to soldiers reportedly assigned to follow her election campaign.

The clip showed Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, chairperson of the party’s strategic panel, approaching three army soldiers while campaigning in Pakret district on Saturday.

The junta was criticised for assigning the soldiers to secretly follow her campaign and gather information. 

Sudarat asked the prime minister via the media why the soldiers had not been returned to the barracks now that the country is heading to a national election.

Junta spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvari said that the discussion between Sudarat and the soldiers was conducted in a friendly and honorable atmosphere, rather than a threatening or inappropriate one.

“Nothing that went beyond general peace monitoring has been done,” Winthai insisted.

This has been implemented in every area, the spokesman said, adding that the army was also assigned to work such as peacekeeping, particularly for preventing ill-intentioned groups from instigating chaos.

“We did not focus our jobs on individuals or politicians. Our goals are to keep order in each area,” he said.

He asked for the public to understand the work of officers.

The authorities are watching movements in areas, particularly gathering security information to facilitate the upcoming March 24 national election, he said.

He stressed that the public should not worry, as the authorities’ activities would be conducted according to the law.

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