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Protesting Democrats told not to break law

Oct 31. 2013
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By THE NATION

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Defiant Pheu Thai to push ahead with amnesty bill; ISA "won't be expanded" to cover rally site

THE DEMOCRAT PARTY, which is planning to hold a mass rally at Samsen train station in Bangkok this evening to voice opposition to the blanket amnesty bill, should abide by the law, Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnog said yesterday.

Reports have said the Democrats are expected to mobilise as many as 10,000 people initially. Some 50 Democrat MPs said yesterday that the action was in line with the 1934 royal statement of abdication by King Prajadhipok, which MP Suthep Thaugsuban read out in front of Parliament.

He said the monarch was willing to give up the throne but was not willing to hand over his royal power to any groups of individuals whose intention is to exercise this power without heeding the people’s voice.

Meanwhile, the ruling Pheu Thai Party continued pushing for the passage of the blanket amnesty bill.

“Of course, we have a Plan B, but we still believe the opposition rally cannot block us, and that the police will have everything under control,” a Pheu Thai source told The Nation.

The authorities have said they are not planning to enforce the Internal Security Act (ISA) in other areas apart from the three Bangkok districts where significant state buildings such as Government House and the Parliament are located.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra held an urgent meeting with high-ranking security officials to assess the state of things in the face of rallies being planned by several social civic groups and the Democrat Party.

Four deputy Democrat Party leaders – Korn Chatikavanij, Thaworn Senneam, Issara Somchai, Siriwan Prassachaksattru , and party executive Satit Wongnongtaey – stepped down from their positions as board members. Though the five will continue as MPs, they say their reason for quitting the board was to pre-empt any moves to dissolve the part based on their role in the protest.

The train station is located in the Phya Thai district, which National Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattanathabtur said would not be put under the ISA.

Paradorn went on to say that though the protesters at the Urupong intersection might be allied to those gathering at Samsen, it is possible that they will not leave the Urupong area. Though refusing to say exactly how many people were expected to join the Samsen protest, he said that usually rallies organised by political parties managed to pull together a large number of people.

“Whether the situation gets out of control depends very much on how many people join the rally. Everything will be under control as long as the numbers are not unmanageable,” he said.

Citing reports that each Democrat had been instructed to find at least 1,000 supporters for the protest, Paradorn said these figures were only released to the media for the sake of impact. He added that it still remains to be seen how many people actually take to the streets.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan has called on provincial governors to be on alert and has ordered all district chiefs to monitor political movements in their areas.

He has also authorised the governors to impose the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Act in case of untoward incidents or violence in their provinces.

PM’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva said that though every citizen was free to express his or her opinions, it should not be done in the form of a lengthy gathering to pressure the authorities.

He said that even if the five senior Democrats, who quit their party posts to lead the protests, decided to resign as MPs, they still could not escape responsibilities if the protest turned violent or violated others’ rights.

Suriyasai Katasila of the Green Politics Group yesterday told anti-government groups to get ready to join the Democrat-led mass protest if the amnesty bill clears the third reading in the House.

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