The Nation



Protest 'resumes tomorrow'


THE ANTI-GOVERNMENT People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) has halted its month-long rally to celebrate His Majesty the King's Birthday today, and plans to resume the protest tomorrow.

However, the group encouraged people to celebrate at three of its rally sites: Democracy Monument, and the besieged Finance Ministry and Government Complex.

A merit-making ceremony will be carried out starting with the giving of alms to 99 monks at 7am, followed by the offering of a meal to the monks. At 5pm, there will be a chanting ceremony and at 6.30pm PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban will lead the protesters to wish HM the King a happy birthday at the three rally stages in Bangkok, and at other sites in the provinces.

Suthep on Tuesday night said the group would continue its protest against the so-called "Thaksin regime" tomorrow. The protesters at Democracy Monument on Rajdamnoen Road yesterday took a break from demonstrating and organised a Big Cleaning Day.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha deployed five military teams to help clean up areas used by protesters and beautify the place with flowers to celebrate His Majesty the King's birthday.

Officials at Government House returned to work, after the anti-government protesters broke into the compound and declared their victory on Tuesday, before leaving.

Police conducted heavy security checks on cars entering the compound, with anti-riot police stationed at all entrances and exits. Military personnel were spotted resting inside Government House. Workers were also seen cleaning up and picking up garbage in the compound.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday went to Government House for a meeting, before attending another meeting at the Royal Thai Police Headquarters. A group of protesters also gathered outside Government House and later decided to move to their base at Nang Lerng Intersection.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal |officials checked burnt buses and |cars before moving them out of the area. Phitsanulok Road was closed to traffic for a cleanup operation.

Navy commander Narong Pipatthanasai yesterday said the Navy and other armed forces have been careful not to get involved in politics.

He admitted the military had talked about the current political situation and decided it would not stage a coup if both sides could not come to terms. "We have learned the lesson and we do not want a repeat [of the violence in 2010]. The situation has improved and it will be back to normal soon," he said.

He denied the military forced Yingluck and Suthep to the negotiating table on Sunday night to find a solution to the ongoing political crisis.

Narong said the military helped coordinate to bring both sides out to talk. "We did not force them or set any conditions. We only helped them bridge the gap. It was a good sign. After that meeting, the situation has improved on one level," he said.

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