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CAPO warns govt officials against talking to PDRC

Move follows Suthep's recent visit to ministries

THE VISIT of anti-government protesters to three government offices has prompted the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) to issue a warning to state officials and civil servants not to support or join the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC)'s campaign for reform before an election.

In a press release yesterday, the CAPO invited permanent secretaries of all ministries to join a meeting on April 17 to clarify the role and duty of officials as stated in civil service laws.

The secretary-general of the PDRC, Suthep Thaugsuban, yesterday visited the Defence Ministry. It was Suthep's third visit to government officials in a week and he received a warm welcome from officials of the three ministries.

On Tuesday, Suthep led his core leaders to seek the support of the Justice Ministry for its national reform campaign in a move apparently calculated to dispel criticism he has usurped the sovereignty of the country. Last Friday, the group visited the Education Ministry.

CAPO's statement said the law stated civil servants have freedom of assembly but must not affect administration and the continuity of public service, or have a political agenda. Moreover, civil servants must support democracy and stay neutral in politics.

"We consider it is not appropriate for the PDRC to seek support from civil servants [for reform before elections] as it puts pressure on the civil servants in their work," the statement said.

"We reprimand both Suthep and the permanent secretary of Justice [Kittipong Kittayarak], who welcomed Suthep and his group and joined a meeting as if they recognised the PDRC. The act of Kittipong is not appropriate because he should [have informed] police to arrest Suthep and [his associates], for whom arrest warrants had been issued," the statement said.

Kittipong on Tuesday welcomed Suthep's group with open arms and provided rooms for talks on political reform.

Following discussions between Suthep and Defence Ministry permanent secretary General Nipat Thonglek and senior officials at the Defence Ministry yesterday, Suthep said the anti-government protesters would not hold marches during the Songkran festival from April 12-15. This would allow troops and police to take a break and stay with their families during the holidays.

Suthep said Nipat was worried there were not enough troops to keep security during the Songkran holidays. As a result, Suthep said, he agreed to suspend marches during the holidays.

Nipat noted that while officials were ready to listen to Suthep's proposals, they could act only within legal constraints.

After Suthep left the Defence Ministry he visited anti-government protesters led by the State Enterprises Workers' Relations Confederation near the Interior Ministry on Assadang Road, where a bomb exploded on Tuesday evening.

During his visit, sounds of an explosion were heard but nobody was injured.

Meanwhile, the pro-government People's Radio Media for Democracy Group (PRDG) yesterday performed a ceremony to expel bad spirits from five National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) members in front of the commission's office in Nonthaburi.

The five members were Vicha Mahakun, Panthep Klanarongran, Prasart Pongsivapai, Pakdee Pothisiri and Vichai Vivitasevi.

Sornrak Malaithong, spokesperson for the group, said the five members should resign from the NACC because they had not received royal endorsement. The group set up a tent in front of the NACC and vowed it would continue the protest until April 11. It also invited 45 monks to pray for the cleansing of evil from the NACC.


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