Updated: Suthep demands more dictatorship for longer

18 03 2017

The People’s Democratic Reform Foundation (PDRF) is the legalistic renaming of the anti-democratic People’s Democratic Reform Committee to allow it to keep operating under the junta it helped seize power in 2014.

It is still led by Democrat Party stalwart Suthep Thaugsuban, who “left” the party to arrange his anti-democratic actions opposing elections and the elected government led by Yingluck Shinawatra. Its bosses remain those anti-democratic elite and Democrat Party (former) members, Sathit Wongnongtoey, Akanat Promphan, Chitpas Kridakorn (Bhirombhakdi), Thaworn Senniam, Nattapol Teepsuwan, Chumpol Julsai and Sakoltee Patthippayakul.

It was this group that recently met with representatives of the military junta for “reconciliation talks.”

Readers might be surprised to learn (or maybe not) that, almost three years after he got the coup he wanted, Suthep “remained firm in its stance of ‘reform before election’, saying it did not mind a delay in the holding of the next election.”

Suthep and his clutch of anti-democrats also declared their full support for “absolute power under Article 44 of the interim charter” and claimed it “was not a problem for reform. Suthep said it as an opportunity for the junta to effectively reform the country.” We know he supports the murderous military and we guess he would also support military courts, torture and all manner of draconian measures against his political opponents.

Of course, we also know that Suthep hates elections, not least because his party never won one in its own right, and repeatedly hung off the military and royal coattails.

Likewise, it is no surprise that this group of anti-democrats “admitted to being fans of junta head General Prayut Chan-o-cha and the desire to complete key reforms.” Why wouldn’t they be? It was Suthep who claimed that he had worked since 2010 with General Prayuth on ways and means for preventing a Thaksin Shinawatra-aligned government from getting elected and then, if it did, on bringing it down.

Suthep and his cronies met with the junta’s people for “four hours of reconciliation talks” after which Suthep declared or maybe even threatened: “We’ve made the point in the meeting that the masses expect the National Council for Peace and Order [the junta] and the government led by [Prayuth] to finish the reforms so the country can continue as a democracy with the monarch as the head of state.”

Suthep, who spent many years as a Democrat Party powerbroker and politician chortled about “politics” being a problem: “Politics has to serve the people. In the past, it was [dominated by] politicians and financiers as well as interest groups. It’s never about the people…”. Because his party was resoundingly defeated time and time again, we can understand his reluctance to accept the will of the people.

Remarkably, as if Thailand’s elite is still under threat, he grasps the monarchy shibboleth by the throat and thunders: “Most importantly, political parties must be run by people who support democratic rule with the monarch as the head of state, not a republic.”

That purported danger justifies for Suthep, and his gaggle of anti-democrat scions of the elite, continuing military dictatorship. He reckons “the people” don’t want an election any time soon.

If the message wasn’t clear, Suthep stated: “The PDRF has no concerns over the NCPO staying in power so long as it works to push reforms.” He added that his support for “the military and Gen Prayut … was never hidden…”.

Update: And just in case anyone was wondering, the Bangkok Post reports that Suthep declined “to say whether his group would accept the outcome of the next election in the event that the Pheu Thai Party wins the poll.”





Update: Privilege and support

25 01 2016

The military dictatorship has made a big deal of its preference that political activists not meet so that their politics is deactivated. It has generally had the same line for political parties.

However, as readers will know, the junta makes strategic exceptions and supports its supporters. For example, fascist monk Buddha Issara has been permitted and even encouraged to rally with his supporters several times. Anti-democrat meetings involving Suthep Thaugsuban have been permitted. The military junta has even organized its own “protesters.”

Confirming these double standards, The Nation reports that the so-called Democrat Party, the preferred party of military and royalists, has been permitted to meet in Suthep’s southern political stronghold of Suratthani on Sunday.Democrat_Party

Party “heavyweights” reportedly met to deal with “internal conflicts posing [a] threat to its popularity in the capital after the party severed ties with its deputy leader, Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra.”

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and Sukhumbhand, who have been at loggerheads, met with other party bosses “at the invitation of the party’s former secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban, who now chairs the Great Mass of People’s Foundation for Thailand’s Reforms [the anti-democrats].” Despite his earlier denials, Suthep craves political power.

As Suthep is back in the driver’s seat, he also invited other People’s Democratic Reform Committee and “former” Democrat Party members including Sathit Wongnongtoey and Thaworn Senniam.

The future of the Democrat Party looks like shifting into Suthep’s hands. The military junta seems willing to extend political privileges to the Democrat Party as we guess the military junta will want a strong and united Democrat Party heading into any election after 2016. We doubt the military junta wants to build its own party, so the Democrat Party is their best bet.

Update: In a Bangkok Post report, General Prawit Wongsuwan tells human rights groups to screw themselves. He declares that the “ban on political assembly and activities” is not up for debate and is an “internal affair.” Prawit “said authorities had not violated the activists’ [Sirawith Seritiwat and Neo-Democracy students] human rights.” Sirawith was arrested on a train trip with activists to bring attention to military corruption. But anti-democrats are free to assemble and engage in political activities because they are privileged as supporters of the military and its junta.

 





Further updated: Suthep re-enters politics

28 07 2015

Much of the media commentary about Suthep Thaugsuban leaving the monkhood has been about his declaration that he will no longer be involved in politics.

Suthep

A Bangkok Post photo

Suthep entered the monkhood not that long after the coup, as a kind of political exile, and after a couple of slaps from the military dictatorship on commentary he made about the coup and his People’s Democratic Reform Committee links to the military’s planning of the coup.

Like others with a penchant for mobilizing people, be it Thaksin Shinawatra, Sondhi Limthongkul or even Chamlong Srimuang, the military is suspicious of them.

Hence, Suthep’s declaration that he is not re-entering politics is something of a ruse.

For one thing, saying he is done with party politics is not saying much when the military dictatorship has sent parties to the wilderness. Parties are more or less defunct and those drafting the new constitution have tried to make them less significant into the future.

Second, during the PDRC campaign against Yingluck Shinawatra’s government, much of the rhetoric was driven by royalist notions that are anti-party and a anti-politician, so an immediate return to party politics would be a denial of that anti-democratic ideology.

Third, it is noticeable that Suthep remains politically engaged. Photographed in his PDRC livery emphasizing monarchy and nation, Suthep stated that he “plans to join a foundation that other former protest leaders have established,” allegedly “to promote vocational education and other grassroots projects.” When he states that “I will work with the Foundation of the Great Mass of the People for Reform of Thailand. I will never go back to run in an election ever again. But I will be working in civil politics alongside the Great Mass of the People for the benefit of our country.”

In a sense, this is an acknowledgement of the post-politician/post-party politics that will be acceptable to the royalist elite and the military dictatorship. Suthep has re-entered politics in a space delimited by the military.

Update 1: As if on cue, Army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr has warned Suthep to steer clear of political organizing.

Update 2: The military dictatorship’s concerns regarding Suthep’s re-entry into politics has been shown in a statement by The Dictator. General Prayuth Chan-ocha “admitted yesterday he was concerned that politician Suthep Thaugsuban … has become politically active once again.” Prayuth was expressing concern about a press conference scheduled for Thursday that “will be the first time since the coup in May 22, 2014, that 12 PDRC leaders will officially get together to continue their push for reform.” Prayuth and Suthep

As Chairman of the so-called Foundation of the Great Mass of the People for Reform of Thailand, Suthep will attend the event. So will all of the other anti-democrat leaders: Sathit Wongnongtoey, Thaworn Senniam, Issara Somchai, Witthaya Kaewparadai, Akanat Promphan, Chumpol Chulasai, Chaiwut Bannawat, Puttipong Punnakan, Sakoltee Phattiyakul, Natthapol Theepsuwan and Chitpas Bhirombhakdi-Kridakorn.

The “foundation” will consider its “strategy to support ‘reforms’ according to the six-point proposal initiated by Suthep himself…”.

 





Army, senate and other anti-democrats

16 05 2014

As we have noted previously, the (avoid-an-election-at-all-costs) Election Commission is still trying to delay and stop an election that it is duty-bound to arrange. As The Nation reports, the “likelihood of the July 20 election being delayed became clear yesterday when a meeting between the government and the Election Commission (EC) on the issue had to be aborted when anti-government protesters, led by People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban, stormed the venue.”

The meeting between the government and EC was held at the Royal Thai Air Force Academy. No discussions were possible because the “protesters had stormed the compound.” What were Air Force security officials doing? Worshipping at the feet of the great anti-democrat?Suthep is loved by the military - Copy

The election and democracy wreckers – along with the EC itself – were led by “Suthep … Satit Wongnongtaey, Witthaya Kaewparadai and Taworn Senneam,” who fear elections because the come from the Democrat Party which is unable to win them.

The protesters “broke into the compound at 10.50am.”

Meanwhile, the group with the longest record of election and democracy wrecking, the Army, was hopping mad because of bloodshed amongst the anti-democrats, attacked by unknown opponents.

Its boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha said his troops “may need to use full force to resolve the situation” if the violence escalates…”. That’s a coup threat. Funny, we don’t recall Prayuth being upset when red shirts get killed and injured.

The same report has “sources” saying the Senate “has come up with an eight-step road map to lead the country out of the political deadlock…”. Readers get to know that this “plan” is little different from those by other anti-democrats like the irrelevant and prissy Abhisit Vejjajiva:

The Upper House will seek a Constitutional Court interpretation as to whether caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan can serve as acting prime minister. If he has no power to do so, the Senate Speaker, in his capacity as Parliament president, should have the authority to nominate a prime minister for royal endorsement, the sources said.

An interim government is expected to be in office for 18 months or longer to prepare reform proposals before a new general election is held, according to the guidelines.

Of course, there is nothing legal or constitutional in this, but that never bothers the anti-democrats, who make up rules, judgements and interpretations as it suits them.

Constitutionally, the senate has no legal power whatsoever to hold such sessions or to nominate a prime minister.

That so-called independent organisations connive with their fellow anti-democrats in unconstitutional and illegal schemes is simply disgraceful and damning of them.

 





Judicial complicity

4 04 2014

How could it be otherwise? According to The Nation, the “Criminal Court has revoked the arrest warrants for People’s Democratic Reform Committee chief Suthep Thaugsuban and 17 PDRC core leaders on charges of violating the emergency decree…”.

The court had approved the warrants on 5 February “for the 18 PDRC leaders on charges of violating Article 11 and 12 of the emergency decree as requested by the Department of Special Investigation.” no-justice

However, as the “government lifted the state of emergency on March 18, the PDRC [the anti-democrats] petitioned the Criminal Court to revoke their warrants.”

The other 17 anti-democrats let off the hook are “Sathit Wongnongtoey, Chumpol Julasai, Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Isara Somchai, Witthaya Kaewparadai, Thaworn Senneam, Nataphol Teepsuwan, Akanat Promphan, Anchalee Paireerak, Nititorn Lamlua, Uthai Yodmanee, Samdin Lertbutr, Preecha Iamsuphan, Ratchayut Siriyothinphakdee, Kittichai Saisa-ard, Samran Rodphet, and Phansuwan Nakaew.”

Has PPT missed something in the report? They allegedly broke a law – the emergency decree – but because it is revoked their slates are wiped clean? Tell that to the red shirts jailed for similar offences.

The double standards are just too clear and the judiciary is demolishing itself.





With 5 updates: Battle plans revealed

21 03 2014

Almost all political commentators are now agreed that the remaining anti-democrats hunkered down at Lumpini Park count for little. Even the Democrat Party is sidelined as they have no ammunition left apart from their repeated statement that they are a political party that will not contest elections. The real political battle is the so-called independent agencies versus the Yingluck Shinawatra government.

This is made clear in several quite stark reports and op-eds. Assistant News Editor at the Bangkok Post, Nattaya Chetchotiros, sets out the plan:

The Constitution Court has started its hearing into whether the Feb 2 election should be nullified. It will deliver its ruling Friday [today].

According to Pheu Thai’s assessment, the election will be certainly revoked which means a new general election will have to be called….

Satit Wongnongtoey, a core leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and a former Democrat politician. “But we still cannot make the Yingluck government fall yet.” … As long as Ms Yingluck refuses to step down, the rallies will have to continue, he insisted.

If the court rules to annul the Feb 2 election, the PDRC, which opposes the election, will certainly boast that it is its victory as well.

A far more serious threat to Ms Yingluck’s political survival is the pending ruling by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) on the rice-pledging scheme.

If the NACC rules she is guilty in the rice scheme, Ms Yingluck must step aside promptly….

Pheu Thai MPs and senators — 308 of them to be exact — also face the axe for their votes to endorse a charter amendment to change the composition of the Senate, which has been ruled as unconstitutional.

Should the NACC find them guilty, more than 200 Pheu Thai MPs may be banned from politics which will prevent them from running in the next election.

The Puea Thai Party is convinced that “these attacks are orchestrated by the ammart system (the aristocratic or bureaucratic elite) with the ultimate goal not only of unseating the government but also eliminating the so-called Thaksin regime.”

This was made clear in a speech at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand where the premier’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva “accused the Election Commission (EC) of not doing its job properly and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) of trying to expedite Ms Yingluck’s indictment.” He was explicit:

“Certain institutions have resorted to arm-twisting legal action and other tactics to delay elections, and convince the public that the prime minister does not exist,” Mr Suranand said.

He said forces were orchestrating the government’s demise to help the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC)’s cause. This could be seen in the Democrats’ election boycott, and attempts by independent agencies to interfere.

Unfortunately, the roller-coaster of amart-inspired judicial conspiracy is continuing at full speed. One example is the NACC’s recommendation that “Senate Speaker Nikhom Wairatpanich be impeached for his role in the passage of the charter amendment draft on the composition of the Senate.” As the Bangkok Post explains:

The NACC ruling means that Mr Nikhom is required to cease carrying out all of his duties as Senate speaker. This has significant political implications, since the speaker of the upper house plays a crucial role in the selection of a new prime minister should the current one leave her post.

The NACC unanimously decided that Nikhom “has abused his authority in violation of sections 3 and 291, which could lead to him being removed as Senate speaker.”

Section 3 states:

Section 3. The sovereign power belongs to the Thai people. The King as Head of State shall exercise such power through the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers and the Courts in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

The performance of duties of the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers, the Courts, the Constitutional organisations and State agencies shall be in accordance with the rule of laws.

Section 291 states is the section that deal with Amendment of the Constitution.

Essentially, a decision by the Constitutional Court that appeared highly biased is now used to allow the Senate to eject its speaker. But because this requires a three-fifths majority, it is not clear it will proceed. Even so, having Nikhom out of the seat, replaced by an appointed senator, for a several weeks means that more legal shenanigans can be put in place to ditch Yingluck and her government.

A Bangkok Post photo

A Bangkok Post photo

Update 1: Phase 1 of the amart plan completed! PPT is not surprised that the Constitutional Court has decided that the uncompleted election is “unconstitutional.” The court has said nothing about the reason for the election being incomplete: the illegal actions of the anti-democrats in boycotting the election, preventing candidate registration and blocking voting.

We understand that the the Constitutional Court is doing the work of the royalist elite, but the great risk of its decision (assuming that the junta-tutored 2007 constitution remains in place) is that any opponent of elections can now prevent them.

In the short term, we guess that a new election needs to be called, but we do do not imagine that the amart will allow one to proceed before completing the destruction of the current government. The plan is in process.

Update 2: Reuters reports on the court decision, with (anti-)Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn saying there are “two options to organise a new vote”:

The commission could discuss with the government about issuing a new royal decree for a new date or we could ask the heads of all political parties to decide together when best to set the new election date….

The Democrat Party has already stated it will boycott a new poll. The report also has a quote from Suthep Thaugsuban’s statement to anti-democrats the day before the decision:

If the court rules the election void, don’t even dream that there will be another election. If a new election date is declared, then we’ll take care of every province and the election won’t be successful again….

As we noted above, and have stated for several months, the amart’s preferred political option is to bring down the government via a creeping judicial coup. The Reuters report quotes Kan Yuenyong, a political analyst at the Siam Intelligence Unit on this:

Independent agencies are being quite obvious that they want to remove her and her entire cabinet to create a power vacuum, claim that elections can’t be held and then nominate a prime minister of their choice….

If they run with this plan, then the government’s supporters will fight back and the next half of the year will be much worse than what we saw in the first half….

Update 3: Meanwhile, Puea Thai Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng has listed eight political implications he sees as resulting from the court’s decision:

1. The charter has been rewritten to enhance the powers of ombudsmen and the Constitution Court, allowing them to void an election.

2. Election non-believers now have more tools to make sure a poll will never end so long as there is no guarantee the Democrat Party will win and form the government.

3. An election can from now on be put off indefinitely. All it takes is for someone to topple it the way the PDRC did and it can always be claimed that the election must be held on the same date or be nullified.

4. The Democrats are given another chance to run in the next election and the party will join the race only when it is confident of victory such as when politicians from the government camp have been eliminated. But it is likely the Democrats will not run anyway because they view they still cannot win and they fear antagonising Suthep (Thaugsuban) and his men.

5. When the Democrats do not run, the election will never end. Independent bodies and the Constitution Court will “deal with” the government and politicians from its camp to create a “political vacuum” and pave the way for the use of Section 3 and 7 to appoint an unelected government and implement reforms before the election.

6. All parties now have a chance to review their options for the next election to encourage more people to support the poll and strengthen democracy.

7. If Thai society cannot resort to elections as a tool to resolve conflicts, the constitution will be scrapped, leading to more conflicts, violence and eventually, a coup.

8. Such a coup will not be the solution or the end of the strife but the beginning of yet more conflicts, violence and great losses for the Thai society.

Update 4: A reader sent us this translation of a “Dr. Pichet” (พิชิต ลิขิตกิจสมบูรณ์) analysis made just prior to the court decision:

We are expecting the Constitution Court to rule on the February 2, 2014 election as to whether it should be nullified, in light of the intentions and in line with what the Election Commission of Thailand (EC), the Democratic Party (DP), People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), and the gang of appointed Senators have been pushing for in the past several weeks.

The forces of tyranny will never allow the House of Representatives to be filled without the presence of the Democratic Party, which has with their shenanigans sought to disrupt the Phue Thai party and its coalition government. The most important issue is that the members of the House from the February 2, 2014 election will have more members of the parliament than the previous set because the Democratic Party decided to boycott the general election. There will be only a few minority parties that will act as opposition parties. This will give Phue Thai an even greater absolute majority in the House of Representatives than ever before.

Should the Establishment allow the election to be validated, the quorum will elect a new House Speaker and a new prime minister. They will be able to form a new full cabinet. The elite and Establishments will totally lose all opportunity to topple the election system and in its place select a “neutral prime minister” and the National Reform Council filled by their preferred appointed methods.

This is the reason why the Establishments wants to nullify the February 2, 2014 election. In the meantime, the current prime minister and her government will continue to assume the role of just a “caretaker” government. (This caretaker government will have no executive power, no authority to issue any orders or to shuffle government officials, and have no authority to borrow money or pay any debts on their populist policies.) The tyrannical groups aim to prolong this situation as long as they can. So the Election Commission of Thailand, the National Anti-Corruption Commission, Constitution Court, the appointed members of the Senate, and their cronies will have more time to help each other trample the prime minister and this government until they finally and completely sink it into the ground.

Update 5: The EC’s chairman Supachai Somcharoen has effectively sided with the anti-democrats (again) saying that he can’t predict when elections will be held. He said “all political parties should have a say in the matter,” giving the boycotting Democrat Party a say on an election it refuses to recognise! He added that the EC “would have to take into account the political situation to ensure tax money would not be wasted.” That hands a license to protesters to boycott any time they like and that will mean no election!  He continued: “We don’t know when things will return to normal. It may take at least three months…”.

PPT suspects that this is the amart timeline for getting rid of the elected government. It is remarkable that those who believe Thailand belongs to them have no qualms about the damage they do to the economy and seem very willing to countenance much further bloodshed in order to maintain their economic and political control.





Notes on the bombings

20 01 2014

Like everyone else, PPT is deeply concerned about the spate of bombings and shootings in recent days. And, like those others, we don’t know much about the motives, intentions and culprits. So we thought some notes from the events might be of some use for readers.

On the first bombing, which left one dead and 38 injured, it was reported at the Bangkok Post that anti-democracy boss Suthep Thaugsuban stated that “he holds the caretaker government responsible for the grenade attack yesterday on demonstrators taking part in a march and vowed to once again escalate his anti-government protest.”

In the same report, police were said to have “raised questions about the incident in which protester guards blocked police and reporters entering the area near the attack scene where they claimed they found a weapons stockpile…. Police also queried the last-minute change in the protest route.” It is added that: “Military police led by Col Noppasit Sitthipongsopon, of the 1st Cavalry Infantry, inspected the scene with PDRC guards while police officers were booed and jeered by the protesters. Reporters were also prevented from entering the building.”

Later, at the Bangkok Post, it was reported: “Police are seeking two men, one believed to be an aide of a former Democrat MP, seen in a video clip of the grenade explosion that killed one protester and injured scores of others in the rally at Banthat Thong Road on Friday afternoon.”

Suthep not only held the government responsible in the way that Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha did, but went further:

“The blood that spilt on the street is piercing my heart. What it [the government] has done to the Thai people is cold-blooded. Let the pain remind us and give us strength to fight until we win,” Mr Suthep told protesters at the Lumpini stage.

He denied he had been behind the grenade attack himself…. “I am not that kind [of person]. I don’t kill my own supporters,” he said.

According to Mr Suthep, the incident showed that the prime minister was not stupid, but a “demon”.

Suthep made much of the discovery of an “assortment of weapons was found in a room in the building including rifles. Only television crews from Channel 5 and Channel 9 were later allowed to film the inspection inside, as well as BlueSky Channel…”. Meanwhile, “National police chief Adul Saengsinkaew said police were unable to provide security because of the change of route. He also said police were not allowed to enter the site where the weapons were found…. He asked the PDRC to allow police to investigate and promised to intensify security in the wake of the blast.”

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra “denied the PDRC’s accusation that the government was behind the attack.” She added: “I do not support any kind of violence and will take action against those who do…”.

On the weapons, Khaosod reports a police statement:

Pol.Gen. Worapong Chiewpreecha, deputy chief of the Royal Thai Police, also told reporters that he believes the weapons found by PCAD guards were in fact BB guns. He stressed that the police would investigate the matter and find the perpetrators as soon as possible, but lamented the fact that soldiers have entered the crime scene before the police.

Later in the day the Centre for Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) announced that forensic police had already investigated the evidence reportedly found by PCAD guards, and concluded that the weapons were plastic BB guns, with their triggers removed, which could not fire live ammunition.

On strategy, Democrat Party stalwart and anti-democracy leader – yes, we know that sounds silly, but that is a fact – and Abhisit Vejjajiva ally, Sathit Wongnongtoey stated:

I must admit that peaceful movements limit our strategies. We think that the worst-case scenario is that Ms Yingluck refuses to resign and will wait for demonstrators to become tired. PDRC secretary-general Suthep [Thaugsuban] keeps encouraging demonstrators to fight until Ms Yingluck and other caretaker ministers resign and the Thaksin regime disappears from Thailand.

The game will end faster if government officials and soldiers side with the people. The game will end faster if the government deals violently with demonstrators. We know hardcore government supporters will launch violent attacks and black-clad men are carrying out their missions and enjoying support from some police officers.

Another attack, with gun fire, was reported:

Journalists reported hearing gunfire intermittently on the front line of the PDRC’s Chaeng Watthana protest site near Mongkutwattana General Hospital…. The attackers came in a group of 30 motorbikes and 12 minibuses. Most of them were dressed in black…. According to the journalists, PDRC guards prevented reporters and photographers from observing the situation at the front line, citing safety concerns…. The PDRC’s protest site on Chaeng Watthana Road has regularly been harassed at night by armed opponents.

BomberA second grenade attack too place on Sunday, at the Victory  Monument: “Two grenades thrown at victory monument protest site; at least 28 hurt, … including a number of anti-government protesters…”. This time, CCTV caught the image of the bomber.

The Bangkok Post predicts the bombings will “likely … push both sides further apart.” It cites Suthep:  “Following the Banthat Thong blast, PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban urged protesters in the South to lay siege to government offices starting on Monday.”

The official response is as follows:

THE GRENADE attack on the anti-government march last Friday was the work of an ill-intentioned group bent on stirring up trouble and pointing blame toward the government, chief of the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) Surapong Tovichakchaikul said yesterday.

Surapong, who is also caretaker Deputy PM and Foreign Minister, said police could not gain access to the scene shortly after the attack because the PDRC leaders did not let them enter.

“There was an attempt to prevent police from getting inside to control the situation and collect evidence, which suggests that an ill-intentioned group wanted to create a situation whereby the government would be blamed [for the attack]. The attack was not aimed at protest leaders as [first] claimed,” he said.

Deputy Bangkok Police Chief Pol Maj-General Adul Narongsak said ini?tial investigations found that the area where the BB guns were found was far from the scene of the bomb blast. Shortly after the attack, PDRC guards refused to allow police entry to the scene, which hampered the investiga?tion. A number of military personnel were the first to be allowed access. Police were allowed entry later.

Adul said it was unlikely the grenade was thrown from a building nearby, as there were many obstacles in the way. And CCTV footage did not show any object being thrown into the area just before the blast occurred.

Adul said the footage showed a sus?pect in a white cap quickly take cover behind a telephone-exchange box just before the deadly explosion. After the blast, another man got out of a pick-up and ran straight to the man with the white cap. The two quickly collected some objects near the blast site with?out paying attention to the injured peo?ple. The footage, he said, had led police to believe that the suspects mingled with protesters before the blast.

“We can confirm that people responsible for the attack were among the protesters as the footage captured both their images and voices,” he said.