BANGKOK – Bangkok Officials are bracing for potentially disruptive protests, with the government invoking special security laws to enable the military to help police control the tens of thousands of protesters expected to pour onto Bangkok’s streets this weekend.
The government will invoke the Internal Security Act for nine days, starting today, in three Bangkok districts to handle the anti-government mass rally scheduled for this Saturday.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung said the three districts are Phra Nakhon, Pomprab Satrupai and Dusit.Sqn Ldr Prasong Soonsiri, former secretary-general of the National Security Council, and Gen Boonlert Kaewprasit, core organiser of the anti-government Pitak Siam rally. Red shirts are mobilising supporters to hold opposing rallies to coincide with Pitak Siam’s next protest on Nov 24 at the Royal Plaza. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)
The National Security Council expects some 40,000 demonstrators to join the rally organised by Pitak Siam leader Gen Boonlert Kaewprasit at the Royal Plaza on Saturday, though police believe 50,000 people will show up.
The ISA enforcement empowers the government to call military reinforcements if police fail to control the crowd.
The decision was made in a meeting of ruling Pheu Thai Cabinet meeting and chaired by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Police Commissioner General Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew had prepared 112 companies comprising 16,800 policemen to maintain security around the rally site. He said 23,000 civilian volunteers will also be on standby at 192 Bangkok police stations, ready to be deployed if police need help to control the situation.
The national police chief claim’s there is a possible plan to take Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra hostage, and cites this as one reason for imposing the Internal Security Act in three districts of Bangkok.
Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew said the cabinet decided to impose the Internal Security Act (ISA) in three districts of Bangkok from today until Nov 30 after security agencies reported receiving information there could be attempts to raid government premises and a plan to take Prime Minister Yingluck hostage.
He said using the ISA would help security forces contain the anti-government protesters.
A large turnout is expected at the Pitak Siam rally at the weekend, the police chief said.
He said the ISA was effective from Thursday until Nov 30 in Dusit, Phra Nakhon and Pomprap Sattruphai districts, but it will not affect people’s normal lives.
The police chief warned that authorities will not allow any raids on or seizure of government property. Police would distribute flyers and place no entry signs near these places to inform people who attend the anti-government demonstration they are “no go” areas.
Envoys to be Briefed on use of ISA
Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul says he will ensure foreign diplomats here are informed about the use of the Internal Security Act (ISA)in Bangkok.
He planned to meet them this evening ahead of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s public announcement on Thailand on Thursday night.
Mr Surapong said people are entitled to take part in the rally, but the government has a responsibility to ensure peace and order, in accordance with international standards.