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THAKSIN'S LAST WAR

Red shirts to govt: 'Don't mess with us'



With red-shirt demonstrators flooding towards Bangkok ahead of Sunday's mass demonstration, core leaders of the Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship yesterday issued warnings and threatened retaliation against government efforts to deter them.

At a press conference, Jatuporn Promphan challenged the government to shut down the People's Channel and said it would only result in more red shirts out in the streets if there were no broadcast.

A group of 200 red-shirt protesters earlier converged at the station, located in the Big C shopping complex on Lat Phrao Road, to guard against any attempts to post a court order banning its operation. No such posting was attempted.

"Close it and all hell will break loose," he said.

Natthawut Saikua dismissed rumours that large numbers of red shirts would land at Tha Prachan Pier in a bid to reach Siriraj Hospital, where His Majesty the King is undergoing rehabilitation.

Joint police and military security is tight at the hospital and the surrounding area, where traffic is now closed until March 23, police said.

Citing his own sources, Natthawut claimed Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda summoned Bangkok police chief Lt-General Santhan Chayanont and ordered him to carry out anti-DAAD actions, such as refusing bail for any red-shirt leaders who were arrested.

He also alleged Prem had pledged extra funding for government efforts against the citywide rallies from a commercial bank and a conglomerate.

"This proves Prem is now fully involved against the red-shirt movement. I challenge him to deny this," Natthawut said.

Natthawut said a statement by red-shirt leader Arisman Pongruangrong that a large amount of excrement had been prepared for use against Cabinet members and Prem was merely a bluff.

"But if the government resorts to violence, we have the right to use what is in our armoury against them," he said.

A local DAAD leader in Nakhon Ratchasima province said fermented fish was being stocked among the food supplies being brought to Bangkok by Korat residents.

"Fermented fish can be used against the government in addition to doubling as a food, which northeasterners love," said Khuenphet Phoneram.

Joint police and military checkpoints have been set up along all main routes leading to Bangkok, in order to stop red-shirt demonstrators from reaching the capital.

Provincial authorities are trying to convince local residents not to travel to Bangkok while preparing protective measures against local rallies in their jurisdictions.

Most of the upcountry demonstrations were scheduled to be held at provincial halls yesterday and today. Provincial halls and all other major government property nationwide are being guarded, as are the homes of important people.

In Mae Hong Son province, security and civilian officials have been instructed not to take leave between yesterday and the end of next week and to work over the weekend.

Provincial land-transport offices are requiring operators of buses and commuter trucks to receive permission before stopping their services and transporting demonstrators to Bangkok. They deny requiring permission is an attempt to prevent red shirts from travelling.

Provincial Police Office 5 later issued a warning that operators transporting people to Bangkok without permission could have their concessions revoked.

It also ordered all police stations in the eight northern provinces under its supervision to protect their stations.

"The chiefs of any stations that are seized by protesters will be punished severely," the office said.

A security analysis and red-shirt sources show the number of northeasterners projected to attend this weekend's rallies in Bangkok will be no more than 35,900, down from the original projection of 253,000.

There are no reports regarding analyses or projected numbers from other regions.






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