SUNDAY, April 14, 2024

Don fears Bangkok protests may derail Apec summit

Don fears Bangkok protests may derail Apec summit

Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai has voiced concern that anti-government protests could destroy the peaceful atmosphere at the Apec summit in Bangkok this week.

The Thalufah and Ratsadon anti-government groups have announced plans to rally in Bangkok from Wednesday to Friday.

Don said he hoped to see the same orderly atmosphere for the Apec summit on Friday and Saturday as he saw at last week’s Asean summit in Phnom Penh.

But he added that he couldn’t say whether Thailand was 100% ready to host the Apec gathering.

“It was peaceful and everything was in order,” Don said of the atmosphere in Phnom Penh. “But reports in Thailand indicate it will not be like it was in Phnom Penh,” he said on Tuesday.

The foreign minister said he did not want to see protests at the summit venue.

Other leaders at the Asean summit had also said they would like to see the orderliness of Phnom Penh repeated this week in Bangkok, he added.

The two anti-government groups have been allowed to protest opposite City Hall in Phra Nakhon district, four kilometres from the summit venue of Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre.

On Monday, Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt urged the protesters not to disrupt the summit by marching to other locations. Chadchart also asked the Metropolitan Police Bureau to help monitor the rallies opposite City Hall.

Police intelligence had detected no other signs of political activism this week, national police chief Damrongsak Kittiprapas said.

Don dismissed concerns that the chaos of the 2009 Asean summit in Pattaya could be repeated, saying the political situation had changed.

“It’s a different era. We don’t expect things to happen like that,” he said, warning that serious disruption of the summit would damage future prospects for Thais.

Regional leaders were forced to flee the venue of the 2009 summit when it was besieged by red-shirt protesters. The summit was subsequently cancelled.

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