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Army 'neutral' in current political conflict

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra chairs a meeting at Royal Thai Police headquarters to assess the preparations for the Bangkok shutdown planned for Monday by anti-government protesters.

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra chairs a meeting at Royal Thai Police headquarters to assess the preparations for the Bangkok shutdown planned for Monday by anti-government protesters.

The Army has stayed neutral in the current political conflict all along and would like to call on members of the public not to force it to take sides, deputy spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree said yesterday.

He also called on netizens to be selective in their use of information obtained through social-media, which he said contained false information and hate speeches, before deciding whether to believe in the postings or spread them.

The colonel said Army commander Prayuth Chan-ocha had maintained his professional etiquette and showed the Army's neutral stance amid the volatile situations. He maintained that the Army needed to perform its duty to maintain peace and order while ensuring safety to people's life and security along with stability to the country.

Reacting to the anti-government campaign by the People's Democratic Reform Committee and other allied groups, Winthai said the PDRC-proposed reform was important to tackle corruption and other political misconduct, but questioned if it was worth injuries or deaths if there was violence associated with the effort. "The Army, therefore, calls for peaceful activities [by the protesters] and lawful enforcement [of law by the police] throughout the campaign," he added.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered soldiers to take photos for records and evidence during the upcoming political rally.

He urged that the cameraman of every company keep the pictures they've taken as evidence and urged the media to take pictures and clips of the situations as well.

He also said that 40 companies were now performing their duties, according to the order from the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order. Moreover, they have attached ribbons to their uniforms to mark each company and each day.

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday expressed concern about possible infiltration by a third party when the anti-government protesters begin their "Bangkok Shutdown" operation on Monday.

Yingluck called on the demonstrators to maintain a peaceful protest and promised that the government will fully carry out its obligations, but violence is sometimes the work of a third party, which is a concern, she said.

Asked whether she or protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban should be held responsible in case of any violence, she said all parties must help prevent it.

She said the specially created Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order will set up a war room at the Royal Thai Police headquarters to closely monitor the situation and ensure that the authorities patiently provide full security, avoid clashes and abide by international standards in dealing with protesters.

She said she did not believe the people are in favour of a coup and welcomed dialogue through a national-reform forum.

"The answer for a resolution for the country does not rest with me. It's a matter of how we can cooperate so that Thailand moves forward and protesters are satisfied. I'm ready to cooperate," she said.

Yingluck was speaking as she visited Matichon newspaper's office to congratulate the newspaper on its 37th anniversary.






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