Thai Patriotic Front steps up pressure on govt to resign

national May 18, 2013 00:00

By The Nation

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The Thai Patriotic Front boasted yesterday that up to 50,000 people would join its rally at Sanam Luang today to demand the Pheu Thai-led government resign.

Chaiwat Sinsuwong, a leader of the group, said the mass rally would begin at 5pm and continue until the government agreed to step down.

A few hundred Thai Patriotic Front members have been camping in Sanam Luang since May 7, despite an order by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to move to another rally site.
However, Chaiwat insisted yesterday that his group would continue the rally at Sanam Luang because they were invoking their constitutional rights to demonstrate.
Chaiwat said the Thai Patriotic Front believed the Pheu Thai-led government, some senators and red shirts were collaborating to undermine the power of the Constitutional Court and that his group needed to protect the court. He added that he had been intimidated by plainclothes police, who had followed and photographed him. 
“I will not file a police complaint, but will defend myself within the framework of the law,” Chaiwat said.
BMA spokeswoman Tridao Apaiwong said the BMA would ask the demonstrators again today to leave Sanam Luang.
She said if the protesters refused to leave, the BMA would file a police complaint against the protest leaders. The last resort would be seeking a court order to force them out of the area, she said. 
She also called on the demonstrators to consider the harm they are doing to the country’s image because the BMA needs Sanam Luang for organising Buddhism Week.
A BMA source said the city administration was concerned because it is being criticised for allowing the group to use the grounds, which are mainly reserved for national ceremonies.
The source said the BMA might step up pressure on the group by removing all of its mobile toilet units from the rally site.
Pol Maj-General Parinya Chansuriya, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Commission, said five companies of policemen and 100 more traffic police had been deployed to keep order at Sanam Luang.
He said the protesters would not be allowed to block roads around Sanam Luang and the leaders would be arrested if any of them violated the law.

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