Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - All 12 military, civilian and police intelligence agencies in Thailand have been ordered to monitor an ongoing political rally against a Pheu Thai Party attempt to debate a bill in favour of defacto leader Thaksin Shinawatra, according to a directive from Deputy Prime Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha signed yesterday.
He said the heightened intelligence service would be helpful in "silencing" rumours of a possible military coup, which had been circulated among redshirt supporters and media. The rumours said a coup would be staged in support of the rally organised jointly by the yellowshirt People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), the antiThaksin Multicoloured group, and the 13 Siam Thai movement.
Dismissing the rumour, Yuthasak said that as the keyman running the overall military affairs he could say it was not possible. He said redshirt Deputy Agriculture Minister Natthawut Saikua and hardcore leader Jatuporn Promphan had merely stated it as a warning, and to urge the redshirts to be ready for a massive mobilisation.
A Government House source, citing immediate intelligence briefings, said that the PAD planned to seize the areas around Parliament over the weekend in preparation for the rally against the reconciliation bill.
The PAD crowd will not be larger than 5,000 as on Thursday and yesterday, said the source. The opposition Democrat Party does not plan to mobilise its own supporters but was waiting to assist the rally, especially the Multicoloured shirt movement.
Acting secretarygeneral to the prime minister, Thawat Bunfueng, said Yingluck Shinawatra was not worried about the PAD rally, because the crowd was small, and crowdcontrol police had been put on alert for emergency deployment. Police checkpoints in the provinces have been instructed to stop proPAD, or antiPheu Thai caravans of supporters from entering Bangkok.
Army commander General Prayuth Chanocha said it was unlikely that the rally would turn violent and prompt the military to send a backup force to assist the police in crowdcontrol operations. He said the military was vouching for all peaceful and nonviolent measures that would move the country forward to untangle the ongoing political conflicts coming with the bill.
Asked what the military would do if the situation turned violent, Prayuth said that depended on the government. "If the order comes from the government, the military would follow, acting under existing emergency decrees which define the military's role in keeping law and order."
Natthawut and Jatuporn had earlier made a statement calling on the redshirts to follow their orders, as well as that of the acting chair of the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship, for possible mobilisation in the event of a coup. They could also follow orders of redshirt core leaders in case all three of them were apprehended.