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Secession-call issue raised at Defence Council meet

Caretaker Prime Minister and Defence Minister Yingluck Shinawatra chairs a Defence Council meeting Tuesday with top military brass at the Air Force

Caretaker Prime Minister and Defence Minister Yingluck Shinawatra chairs a Defence Council meeting Tuesday with top military brass at the Air Force

A MEETING of the Defence Council Tuesday comprising government figures and top military brass went smoothly, after initial fears of a confrontation over possible legal action against pro-government red shirts by the Army over secession remarks.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha defended himself against criticism over his alleged favouritism of the anti-government movement.

He faced claims of Army inaction towards the activities and protests by the People's Democratic Reform Commission (PDRC), while legal action was taken against pro-government red shirts after their alleged calls for secession.

Prayuth said the caretaker government and anti-protest command had already dealt with the PDRC, while the Army initiated legal action dealing with the secession call - which he said represented "clear and present danger".

After the meeting, Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Paphathip Sawangsaeng quoted caretaker PM Yingluck Shinawatra, who is also caretaker defence minister, as vowing not to allow secession, or any violation of the Constitution. She instructed all security authorities, especially the Internal Security Operations Command, to act against the secession call "treating all political groups equally", said the colonel.

The spokesman said Yingluck thanked the military for performing its security duties and providing medical assistance during the protests. She repeated her call for the military to review the locations of military emplacements in Bangkok to make them appropriate to the situation and befitting the country's image.

She thanked the military for ordering troops to vote in the general election on February 2.

She also praised military units in the far South for their handling of insurgency-related violence and called for support of royally initiated strategies to win over the local population in the region. She also asked the military to support the Senate election on March 30 and stay neutral in Thai politics.

The meeting was called by Yingluck and held at the Air Force main auditorium in northern Bangkok. The event discussed routine agendas and defence affairs as well as political issues, including the continuing PDRC protests, the coming senatorial candidacy registration and election, and secession calls by red-shirt groups and their reported mobilisation of men and equipment.


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