Another showdown day nominated

5 03 2010

Over the last couple of months the military-backed, royalist government led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva time and again told the media that a “showdown” was looming and predicted that this would come around the time of the verdict on the Thaksin Shinawatra assets case. That day passed without major incident.

In what is now a well-planned strategy of invoking fear, another date is now nominated as a “showdown” date, this time by the army chief and power behind the government, General Anupong Paochinda (Bangkok Post, 5 March 2010). Anupong Paojinda is reported as having “expressed grave concern over the fragile security situation in the lead up to the red shirts’ mass rally on March14.” The general explained that Thailand is “edging closer to a critical juncture”.

It was deputy army spokeswoman Colonel Sirichan Ngathong who commented for the army chief, saying Anupong told a meeting with unit commanders that “the security situation would become precarious from the middle of the month.Anupong appears to be expecting a clash.

In another meeting, over three hours, the government’s security committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, discussed the upcoming red shirt rally. In the past, it has usually then been a government spokesman who has made announcements on security. This time, however, the committee is apparently dominated by the military. Its spokesman is Major-General Ditthaporn Sasasamit.

Ditthaporn said the meeting covered possible traffic problems that could be caused by the red shirt demonstration.” He said it did not “discuss preventing upcountry red shirts from entering the capital. But stopping them getting to Bangkok might be necessary if the security law was invoked.” In fact, there are already numerous road blocks designed to discourage red shirt movement to Bangkok.

The army is heavily involved, even without the Internal Security Act being invoked. It is working with police in stepping up security and the 1st Army will oversee vulnerable locations in Bangkok. General Anupong has also instructed every army unit to step up security ahead of the red shirts’ demonstration.


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