BANGKOK – Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha on Monday made the 1st Infantry Regiment compound on Vibhavadi Rangsit road his temporary headquarters to monitor the movements of the anti-government protesters, a source said.
The source said Gen Prayuth had stationed himself at the 1st Infantry Regiment headquarters after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra cancelled the taping of a message wishing His Majesty the King a happy birthday because Channel 5 was one of the targets for a visit by the protesters.
Gen Prayuth and many other high-ranking officers have their living quarters inside the Ist Infantry compound.
He ordered the regiment to prepare to provide facilities in the event the prime minister wants to use them for government meetings.
According to the source, Gen Prayuth had said the army needs to be resilient and draw on lessons from the past to solve problems, with the condition that any action to be taken must not bring about a repetition of the past turmoil.
Pol Maj Gen Piya said anti-government rallies at different spots in the capital city had passed off without serious incident, apart from at the Finance Ministry.
According to reports, the power supply to the Budget Bureau and the Office of the Auditor General have been cut off, he said, while some of the protesters went into the two offices and told officials and other staff to leave the buildings and move their vehicles out of the premises.
This was a gross violation of Section 215 of the Criminal Code and core members of the protest led by former Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban would be subject to punishment in line with the law, Pol Maj Gen Piya said.
They would also face further charges if found to have committed other offences by the authorities, he added.
Meanwhile, Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has declared the Finance Ministry a second official rally site for anti-government protests, after demonstrators seized the building on Monday.
Mr Suthep warned police not to use force against protesters at the ministry since they are holding a peaceful rally and have been given strict orders not to damage state property inside the compound, adding that any deaths of protesters would lead to harsh consequences for government.
“We don’t carry weapons. Protesters don’t even have nail clippers on them,” he said.
Mr Suthep shrugged off government threats to arrest him, saying that the seizure of the ministry was possible because government has no legitimacy to administer the country, after rejecting the Constitution Court’s ruling that an amendment draft on changing the composition of the Senate was unconstitutional.