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PM says sorry to Prem over mob violence

Cabinet visits Privy Council chief, vows crackdown on violent demonstrations

Published on July 25, 2007

Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont yesterday led his Cabinet members to the Bangkok residence of Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda to "apologise for failing to take good care of him" after anti-coup demonstrators clashed with police outside his home on Sunday.

After a Cabinet meeting, Surayud and 34 other ministers took a bus at around 2pm from Government House to Prem's home, two kilometres away.

Prem welcomed the delegation in front of reporters and cameramen before going inside the residence with the premier and his entourage for a meeting.

The visit was held two days after protesters of the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD) clashed with police outside Prem's home.

The protesters had gathered to call on Prem to resign, alleging that the Privy Council chief, rather than Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, was the real leader of the September 19 coup.

In a released statement, said to be the same one he delivered to Prem, Surayud said some political groups that had lost privileges as a result of the coup had continued to engage in illegal activities while using false evidence to make allegations against Prem, who is the top adviser to His Majesty the King.

"They intend to bring down the highest institution of the country while pretending to be the last resource for people who want only to get political interests," he said.

The government would impose tough measures on the demonstrators to prevent a new round of violence like Sunday's, Surayud said.

"I have to apologise to Your Excellency for incompetent security measures and promise it will not happen again," he told Prem.

Surayud gave Prem a bouquet of flowers. Prem reportedly told the Cabinet members that, as he was at home on Sunday, he had been verbally attacked for six hours before the clashes. He was not furious because the allegations were not true, he said, add-ing he had denied them earlier.

However, he did not understand why the protesters used such abusive words, as if they really hated him, he said.

Prem thanked Surayud for bringing along all the Cabinet members to meet him.

"I don't take the incident seriously. I'm not upset. I still sleep well. I don't take it as the fault of the government," Prem added.

Yesterday's visit by the Cabinet followed that of Council for National Security (CNS) chief Sonthi, who visited Prem on Monday to apologise on behalf of the government.

Meanwhile, PM's Office minister Thirapat Serirangsan said Sonthi had proposed a plan to the Cabinet to broadcast a recording of Sunday's clash on TV channels to make people understand that the police had tried their best to handle the protesters using peaceful means.

Piyanart Srivalo

The Nation



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