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White-mask group suspends its protests in Bangkok

White masks rally at CentralWorld on June 30.

White masks rally at CentralWorld on June 30.

The anti-government white-mask movement has announced a temporary suspension of its political activities in Bangkok, following an internal struggle over strategy.

The movement posted a statement on its "V for Thailand" Facebook page Tuesday, saying that it had decided to "suspend activities in order that the group could review its role and direction in its fight to overthrow dictatorship and corruption".

"We will resume our activities once everyone is ready to adopt our ideology,'' the statement read.

The white-mask group is reportedly upset with its allies - the Pitak Siam group and the group led by Chaiwat Sinsuwong - for encouraging some members of the white-mask movement to continue protesting at Sanam Luang on June 30. The movement also said it did not agree with the Chaiwat group's petition for a royally endorsed prime minister.

The statement said rallies outside the capital would continue. The move to suspend rallies in Bangkok drew a mixed response from its supporters, some of whom insisted they would continue their Sunday protests outside CentralWorld.

"V for Thailand, you are hugely mistaken, because you cannot order us to stop our rally. The white-mask movement has no leaders. Whoever wants to support us in ousting this corrupt government can do so. You need to think again,'' one blogger wrote.

"The silent majority of this movement are sick and tired of the discord, we will support you only when you are reunited,'' another blogger said.

"You have woken us and now you want to stop us? This is annoying because now everyone is in the mood to get rid of this evil system,'' one female blogger wrote.

"Can you give us a more acceptable reason to stop our protests? This indecisiveness is what is ruining trust in our country,'' said another blogger.

"We [white-mask protesters] are disappointed - it's no joke. You encounter a trivial problem like this and give up? Why don't you get together and try to solve your differences?'' lamented another blogger.

'sea of masks'

"I dream that one day every white-mask protester will stand together on every street of every city - a sea of white masks," said one blogger. "If my dream becomes reality, I guarantee some families will pack their bags and transfer their assets out of the country.''

Meanwhile, Chaiwat denied his group had tried to take over control of the white-mask demonstrators. His group had joined white-mask protests at CentralWorld, he said, because they were concerned about protesters' safety. He said he would continue to support the white-masks even though they did not see eye-to-eye on all issues.

In response to the statement, Pitak Siam also posted a message on its Facebook page, saying that it disapproved of the white-mask group's decision to suspend rallies, and called on them to converge as usual at CentralWorld. "Those who are not under anyone's thumb can come and meet us at CentralWorld,'' read their message.

Anti-government protester Borworn Yasinthorn called on supporters to continue their weekly rally but referred to his own followers as the "anonymous masses".

"We have no core leader because everyone is a leader of change," Borworn added.


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