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Bid to sign up 100,000 democracy guards

A man attempts to calm down pro-government red shirts during a confrontation with a group of anti-government protesters in Nakhon Ratchasima yesterday, where registration of the red shirts

A man attempts to calm down pro-government red shirts during a confrontation with a group of anti-government protesters in Nakhon Ratchasima yesterday, where registration of the red shirts

Govt supporters say 10,000 have registered and more sought

The number of volunteer "guards to protect democracy" is expected to be at least 100,000 at the end of the month, red-shirt leader Suporn Atthawong said yesterday.

He said over 10,000 volunteers had signed up after the first day of registration in Maha Sarakham on March 1. Meanwhile, leaders of the red-shirts in 20 provinces in the Northeast have been told to recruit at least 1,000 volunteers a province by the end of this month, so that at least 50,000 volunteers register in the Isaan region.

Combining with volunteers from other areas, the number of the red guards should reach 100,000, said Suporn, who is also caretaker deputy secretary general to the prime minister.

The red-shirts' volunteer guards are not an armed force, and have no plan for any part of the country to secede, but they are a group that supports democracy. But Suporn said they needed physical training to strengthen their bodies as well as learning how to "provide security" effectively. Importantly, they must be disciplined to be under the law, he said.

Suporn said he would sue any person who accuses the red volunteer guards of wanting to secede.

Applicant Lun Biakratoke said he volunteered to campaign to "protect democracy". He said he felt sorry for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra enduring tension from political opponents.

Boonnak Sopudsa said he applied as he wanted to "restore democracy" in the country.

In Nakhon Ratchasima, the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee protesters had a war of words with pro-government United Front for Democracy supporters for about 20 minutes near the red guards' registration venue.

A line of barricades and 50 police officers was between the two groups.

The war of words took place when a PDRC procession of 300 people returned from provincial police region 3 command to its rally base at the Thao Suranaree Monument and past the red shirts' registration venue. About 200 red shirts were there. The PDRC's truck stopped and moved on after 20 minutes.

PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan said yesterday the PDRC would kickstart a national reform process with the forums joined by academics and the people.

The forums, which would be held at the PDRC rally site within Lumpini Park, and would involve three parts.

Resolutions proposed in the academic forum and the "people's assembly" forum would be presented to the "people’s council and people's government", he said.

Each group of participants - academics and members of the public - would discuss six issues for national reform at different times.

Tomorrow’s programme would be on poverty eradication, while the talk on Wednesday would be on fighting corruption, and on Friday they would discuss decentralisation of power. Next Monday (March 17) the topic would be restructuring of the police, while political reform would be discussed on Wednesday week, and bureaucratic reform on Friday March 21, he said.






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