Pro-poll protesters warned of action

politics May 20, 2018 01:00

By THE SUNDAY NATION

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POLICE have warned pro-election demonstrators of legal action if they go ahead with their plan to march to Government House on the fourth anniversary of the 2014 coup on Tuesday.



The threat came as security authorities voiced concern over possible violence or clashes if the protesters moved their rally from Thammasat University’s Tha Phrachan campus to Government House.

Deputy national police chief Pol General Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul said yesterday that forces would keep a close watch for possible intervention by “a third party” having the intention to cause a commotion or violence.

“Police all over the country have been instructed to set up security checkpoints. Searches are being conducted for all kinds of weapons” since midnight on Friday until the end of this month, Srivara said.

He added that at least three companies of police officers had been prepared to provide safety for the demonstrators at their protest site inside the university and also along the route of their march, if they opted to move elsewhere.

Srivara also warned the group, which calls itself “People Who Want to Vote”, that in exercising their constitutional rights they needed to comply with the law on public assembly.

He said their protest inside the university was permitted but that they would not be allowed to move out of the area.

“It’s against the law to move out of the permitted protest area. Their march will affect the traffic and police are not authorised to allow a demonstration on the streets,” he said.

The Metropolitan Police have notified leaders of the protest that the activists are not allowed to move out of the permitted protest area, according to Srivara.

“If they do not comply, we will have to take legal action,” he added.

The “People Who Want to Vote” have threatened to stage a march to Government House to submit their call for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to hold the next election in November, as promised previously. 

The tentative schedule was postponed until next February after the National Legislative Assembly delayed enactment of the new electoral law by three months.

Meanwhile, a source in the ruling junta, the National Council for Peace and Order, said yesterday that security authorities were worried the pro-election group’s planned march to Government House might result in a clash, or at least cause traffic congestion.

“We ask the demonstrators not to move out of the protest venue,” the source said.