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Many anti-govt groups planning street protests

Pitak Siam

Pitak Siam

Anti-government groups are firming up plans for street rallies ahead of the parliamentary deliberation on August 7 of an amnesty bill proposed by a group of MPs from the ruling Pheu Thai Party.

The protests will be scheduled on different days, but it is not clear, according to the latest remarks by their leaders, whether they will be staged at the same venue. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is due to leave for an official trip to Africa today and return on August 3, two days after Parliament convenes.

Opposition Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva called on the prime minister and her government to avoid a return to civil strife, referring to its rush to pass an amnesty law. The government should devote its energy to addressing the plight of the common people, he said.

"It all depends on the government. People will take to the streets within seven days. The prime minister can decide not to bring the country back to a conflict, and instead focus on tackling the problem about the cost of living. It depends on whether she will do that," said Abhisit, who is also the Democrat Party leader.

The Democrats are arranging for their "Reveal the Truth" show against an amnesty bill to take place some time between August 3 and 6 at Bangkok venues to be selected.

Critics and opposition politicians have alleged that there have been attempts to include fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra among the targets of an amnesty bill.

The People's Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime, formerly known as Pitak Siam, called a meeting of group leaders in the afternoon at the Royal Turf Club. The group would conduct a peaceful rally but would not allow provincial authorities and police to block them from gathering in Bangkok. It would consider legal action if it is prevented.

Tul Sitthisomwong, a leader of the multi-coloured-shirts movement, said his group would rally outside Parliament between August 5 and 8 to protest against the amnesty bill.

Suriyasai Katasila, coordinator of the Green Politics Group, said he suspected the amnesty bill would be drafted in a way to benefit Thaksin and the red-shirt leaders facing legal problems in connection with the 2010 unrest.

The People's Alliance for Democracy will call a rally if it finds that the amnesty law proposed by Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hema is intended to help Thaksin escape legal problems, PAD spokesman Parnthep Puapongphan said.

Vasit Dejkunchorn, a retired former deputy police chief and head of Thai Spring, said his group would demonstrate against the amnesty bill outside Parliament House.


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