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Sabotage threat: PM



Abhisit warns of plots to create chaos as govt braces for rallies this week

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday said recent intelligence reports had pointed to the possibility of sabotage taking place on March 14.

He said the government was closely monitoring the situation and would make sure no weapons are smuggled out of military barracks.

Abhisit said that the government's Security-Related Situation Monitoring Committee had received information indicating possible acts of sabotage aimed at creating chaos.

He did not give any details about the nature of the sabotage, or who might be behind such a plot.

Meanwhile, Army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the Army had no information about the possibility of sabotage, adding that the intelligence mentioned by the prime minister could be from another security agency.

Abhisit said he would tomorrow seek the cooperation of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration in preventing any clashes in the capital between demonstrators of different colours, such as between the red-shirted Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship and the blue-shirted pro-Newin Chidchob group.

The PM denied the government had any plan to deploy traffic spikes to stop red shirts' vehicles from entering Bangkok from upcountry.

He also insisted his administration was not a puppet of the bureaucratic elite (amataya).

He urged red-shirt protesters to be orderly and act in accordance with the Constitution.

Abhisit said he would try to communicate with the red shirts' leadership but, if that failed, he would then try to relay his messages through the mass media.

He reiterated that he had no intention to crack down on peaceful demonstrators, but was ready to impose special measures if necessary.

Former premier Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday called on his red-shirt supporters to join the mass anti-government rally.

"I would like to urge those who love democracy, justice and equality, and those who think that I have been bullied without mercy and humanity, to join the rally," read his Twitter message.

He was referring to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders to have Bt46 billion of his assets seized for his being unusually wealthy due to abuse of power and conflict of interest.

Thaksin said on Friday night that a man who was treated for heart disease under his government's universal healthcare programme had offered to carry out a suicide bombing. However, he turned down the offer because he did not want to endanger anyone's life.

Thepthai Senpong, spokesman for Abhisit, who is the Democrat Party leader, claimed Thaksin has given red-shirt leaders Bt50 million.

He said the leadership had first asked for Bt100 million, but was only given half the sum to organise the rally and was now seeking an additional Bt20 million. No evidence was given to back his claim, however.

FUND-RAISING FOR RALLIES

Thepthai added that some "hard-core" red-shirt leaders had received separate sums after flying to Dubai to see Thaksin in person.

He also cited a security report that 100,000 vehicles of various types would enter Bangkok and as many as 1 million protesters would converge on the capital on March 14 with a view to peacefully overthrowing the government within three days. If they failed in that objective, protesters would as a fallback position try to oust the administration by March 20, he cited the report as saying. Thepthai said the security report revealed that the red shirts' operation would be divided into two phases.

They will first drum up support in at least 38 provinces until March 11, and then gather in large numbers in Bangkok with the Phan Fah Bridge on Rajdamnoen Avenue as their focal point centre, plus six subcentres.

Red-shirt-sympathising Buddhist monks will also gather at Bangkok's Sanam Luang, he added. The report also indicated that all former MPs from the dissolved Thai Rak Thai and People Power parties had been assigned the task of filling 200 vehicles carrying 10 passengers each.

Well-trained former Army officers - clad in black and carrying bamboo sticks - will serve as guards, he said.

Meanwhile, Democrat MP for Bangkok Kowit Tharana urged people who disagree with the red shirts to wear a ribbon in the tricolour of the national flag.

He said they should also carry placards saying they oppose violence.

Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Rai Itthidej Kaewluang said as many as 10,000 pickups carrying seven to 10 passengers each would head for Bangkok from the northern region alone to urge Abhisit to dissolve the House of Representatives.

"We would like Bangkokians to be sympathetic, because it's not often that rural folk get to visit Bangkok while Bangkokians always travel to the provinces. But since there will be so many people, I'm wondering if the government can handle it. If the government can't handle it, then it cannot stay in power. I'm personally fully prepared for a new election," he said.






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