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Officials and staff return to work at some ministries

HIGH-RANKING officials at the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry yesterday broke open a lock that anti-government protesters had put on the ministry's gate as part of the "Bangkok shutdown" campaign.

Forestry Department chief Boonchob Sutthamanaswong, plus top officials of other departments in the ministry and 30 ministry officials, cut open the lock after they resolved to open the gate at a meeting with the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) on Monday.

Few ministry officials, however, turned up for work yesterday. Boonchob said that if the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), the main force behind the campaign for an unelected "people's council", returned to lock the gate, the ministry would evaluate the situation, by judging ministry officials' responses.

At the Ministry of Labour, which reopened after the "shutdown", officials returned home after working for about two hours, as they feared PDRC protesters would block them from leaving.

More than 300 riot police manned the ministry's compound to safeguard the officials.

Labour permanent secretary Jirasak Sukhonthachat said the ministry ordered the officials to return to work after they "misunderstood" the situation.

Justice Ministry officials went back to work yesterday at the government complex on Chaeng Wattana Road after successful negotiations between ministry bosses and PDRC leaders. Protesters had besieged the site for over two weeks as part of their bid to oust the government and block the election.

PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban said the PDRC and People's Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime agreed to open Rama VIII Bridge today for public convenience.

But he said that wouldn't effect to plans to lay siege to government offices.




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