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Out of favour Camronwit to swap with chief in North

The transfer of Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) commander Lt-General Camronwit Toopgra-jank appears to have been devised to facilitate upcoming political situations to favour the ruling Pheu Thai Party, as well as another election with his successor - Pol Lt-General Suthep Dejraksa, from a regional command in the North - seen as more gung-ho and more composed, analysts say.

Suthep, former commander of Provincial Police Region 5 in Chiang Mai, has been close to key Pheu Thai figures - Yaowapa Wongsawat, sister of fugitive PM Thaksin Shinawatra, and his long-term ally Yongyuth Tiyapairat.

With Camronwit due to retire by September, Suthep is of more use in the long run, apart from his other qualities preferred by Pheu Thai.

Camronwit, who will swap his post with Suthep, has reportedly fallen out with national police chief Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew, who is less than happy about his handling of anti-government protesters and letting them into the MPB during a series of clashes last year, police sources said.

He has also allegedly displeased Thaksin over several matters, including revealing a photo of the fugitive former PM presenting him with his police rank, they added.

Camronwit is seen as a red-shirt police chief and one who was close to Wuthipong "Ko Tee" Kottham-makhun, a lese majeste suspect on the run - and that has affected the image of the police force.

Adul reportedly tried previously to transfer Camronwit, who responded by saying publicly that he may quit and take action against his superiors if he was shifted unfairly. Adul later devised an order to take action against station chiefs based in Bangkok and their superiors if people were found operating illegal gaming machines in their jurisdiction.

After a raid earlier this month was conducted at a gaming den in Bangkok, led by a bureau commander on a direct order from Adul, the national police chief had a legitimate reason to transfer Camronwit away from Bangkok to lead the Provincial Police Region 5 in the North. This post has jurisdiction over eight provinces including Chiang Mai, where it is based.

The Police Commission yesterday approved the transfer order, under which Camronwit and Suthep will swap positions. The move will become official when it is endorsed by caretaker Deputy PM Pracha Promnok next Wednesday.

The reshuffle also sees a number of key positions switched, including the approved resignation of Pol Lt-General Ekkarat Meepreecha, who will retire at the end of September, as an assistant national police chief. He has cited health problems as the reason.

Camronwit reportedly asked if he could return to Provincial Police Region 1, which covers provinces near Bangkok, but this allegedly failed because Region 1 commander Pol Lt-General Nares Nantha-chote, has strong ties to Thaksin, Yingluck, and Thaksin's former wife Khunying Pojaman.


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