Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thailand political crisis: More rallies 'as soon as decree ends'

April 16, 2009

Movement will regroup and hit back stronger, Pheu Thai MP vows

The red shirts were likely to regroup after the government lifts the state of emergency, sources from security forces said yesterday.

Although life in Bangkok appears to have returned to normal, intelligence officials have had tips that supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra plan more rallies as soon as the state of emergency is discarded.

Red-shirt leaders such as Jatuporn Promphan, Jakrapob Penkair had earlier announced they were ready to stage an underground movement.

Informants claim the new round of rallies were intended to be more dramatic than those that took place in recent days.

The government has been warned to check D-Station carefully and take legal action against taxi drivers' local radio stations as they were a media allegedly instigating an uprising and anarchy.

Pheu Thai Party Udon Thani MP Lt Col Surathin Pimanmekin said the red shirt movement would continue although they had been told by the leaders to suspend the protest. "People who are treated unfairly still want to demonstrate their protest in their own way. They do not need leaders. Having leaders does not necessarily ensure victory."

He said provincial people would come to Bangkok to issue demands to the government.

Democrat Party adviser Banyat Bantadtan believed the red shirt movement would revive after regrouping to try gather more strength.

However, he said the longer the rallies went on, the more public opposition the red shirts would face before finally dying down.

"Thaksin fears that it would reach that point and that's why he has been calling for a mediator to bring reconciliation,'' he said.

Banyat, formerly a Democrat Party leader, gave three reasons that would drive Thaksin to compromise: first he doesn't want to go to jail. The Supreme Court's Political Division for Political Office Holders had sentenced him to two years in prison over a land deal by his ex-wife.

Secondly, he did not want to lose his assets (courts are due to rule on $2 billion of family money that has been frozen in Thai banks). And third, he wanted to return to power.

Banyat said it would be hard to find people who would act as a mediator for Thaksin, as the former PM wanted the government to throw 13 graft cases, worth Bt200 billion in damages, out of the court.

"Thai society has developed to the point that people will not allow a few people to settle this problem because it goes against moral and legal grounds,'' he said.

Meanwhile, a former Roi Et MP for the pro-Thaksin People Power Party, Nisit Sinthuprai, claimed the riots this week were the work of a third party and not the red shirts.

He also claimed the military crackdown on the protesters on Monday led to deaths and that he would find evidence and relatives of people supposedly killed to present to the press.

He said the red shirts had not lost the war; they were just taking a recess. "We will actually steal a small victory by breeding red-shirt seeds in the heart of people. Once we blow the whistle, a bigger number of red shirts will turn up."

He said he would be a second-generation leader for the red shirts and would lead a rally to call for the resignation of three privy councillors and the PM.

Source: The Nation

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