Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - A scheduled meeting of the House of Representatives yesterday to debate the reconciliation bill had to be postponed to Wednesday and Thursday after MPs were blocked by protesters from entering Parliament in Thailand.
National Police chief Priewpan Damapong yesterday ordered the transfer of Metropolitan Police Bureau chief Lt-General Winai Thongsong to the Royal Thai Police headquarters, for failing to disperse the protesters, a source who did not want to be named, said. Caretaker commissioner of Provincial Police Region 1, Major-General Kamronwit Thoopkrajang, has been put in charge of the Metropolitan Police.
Meanwhile, a mass gathering of the red shirts is scheduled for 1 pm as a special episode of "Truth Today" when three of its leaders with varying political status come together. Veerakarn Musigapong's five-year political ban as a former Thai Rak Thai executive has ended, while Jatuporn Promphan is an MP, and Natthawut Saikua is a deputy agriculture minister in the Yingluck Cabinet.
The Democrats will today hold an anti-reconciliation bill mass rally at the square in front of Bangkok Metropolitan Administration headquarters at 5pm. Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and chief adviser Chuan Leekpai will speak on how the draft law will whitewash wrongdoers and cause more conflicts in society, spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said.
The yellow shirts announced that they would rally again at 3pm on Tuesday at the Makkawan Rangsan Bridge.
Pitoon Poomhiran, secretary-general of Parliament, announced at 3pm yesterday that the House meeting will start at 1.30pm on Wednesday and continue until Thursday morning. Earlier, Pitoon said House Speaker Somsak Kiartsuranond had announced the postponement of the House meeting from 9.30am to 1.30pm. However, at 1.30pm, the meeting was postponed indefinitely as most of the MPs could not get into Parliament.
After leaving Pheu Thai headquarters for about 10 minutes, more than 20 vans supposedly taking the MPs, including Somsak, to Parliament had to turn back as they could not get past the rallying protesters.
The attempt of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and the Multicoloured group yesterday was successful as their strategy of blocking roads prevented the MPs from entering Parliament.
The blocking started at 6am at the Karn Ruean intersection, where the Multicoloured group protesters settled down for their rally. There was some pushing and shoving between the protesters and the police as the police tried to surround them and block the way to Parliament.
There were no injuries as the PAD arrived on the scene and helped the Multicoloured group drive the police out and entrenched themselves in the middle of the junction. Only a few MPs got into Parliament - those who came early, or Democrat MPs who were allowed in by the protesters. About 700 police blocked the way to Parliament.
The House meeting in the morning was postponed as most of the MPs couldn't get into the House and the rally went on smoothly as they waited for PAD's leaders and Parliament president to assess the situation. Rumours were rife that the government was planning to move the parliamentary session to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the PTT headquarters on Viphavadi Road, Don Mueang Airport or even in Chiang Mai.
Around noon, there was a clear report that the Parliament president had decided to go back to the House and open the meeting at 1.30pm. This raised the temperature of the protesters and they prepared themselves to block the session. The PAD speakers' truck moved to the Kudtiya intersection to block the police vans carrying the Pheu Thai MPs from the party headquarters to Parliament, while the protesters at the Karn Ruean intersection prepared for a confrontation.
Finally, the police vans decided to return to the Pheu Thai headquarters as about 500 PAD protesters were blocking the Kudtiya intersection and about 200 of the Multicoloured Group were blocking the Karn Ruean intersection, completely sealing the approach roads to Parliament.
The protesters continued to rally at both intersections despite an announcement by the Parliament secretary-general in the afternoon, scheduling the next meeting on June 6-7.
Only about 20 Democrat MPs were in Parliament yesterday.
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