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Thai prime minister fears chaos at weekend rally

Thai prime minister fears chaos at weekend rally

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva invoked special security powers Tuesday ahead of a major anti-government rally this weekend that he warned could turn chaotic and plunge the country back into turmoil.
Abhisit told reporters his Cabinet approved the use of the stringent Internal Security Act from Saturday until Sept. 1 in the Bangkok district surrounding his office, where anti-government protesters plan to rally Sunday.
Supporters of deposed fugitive leader Thaksin Shinawatra have called for the protest outside Government House, the prime minister's office, to demand Abhisit's resignation. Thaksin was deposed in a 2006 coup but remains at the center of a protracted political crisis that has been calm in recent months but the government fears is heating up.
"The political situation from Aug. 30 onward may turn chaotic," Abhisit said in the order issued by the Internal Security Operations Command, which said some protesters plan to "besiege Government House to interrupt the work of the prime minister."
The Internal Security Act allows security forces to impose curfews and restrict freedom of movement in situations deemed harmful to national security.
The protest will be the first major rally outside Government House since April, when Thaksin supporters gathered outside the prime minister's office and riots erupted in downtown Bangkok that left two dead and more than 120 injured.
Protest organizers say their goal is to keep Sunday's protest peaceful.
"We plan to gather for a day and disperse peacefully unless security forces crack down on us," said Jatuporn Phromphan, a protest leader. He said protesters will reiterate demands for Abhisit to dissolve Parliament and call fresh elections, adding if their calls are ignored, "We will step up pressure."
Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who seldom comments on the political turmoil, called for unity on Friday.
"Currently, our country is a mess," Bhumibol told a televised gathering of civil servants. "I am concerned that Thailand is sinking."
"In the recent past, I felt that the country was on the verge of failure," the king said. He added, "If everyone uses their knowledge and willingness, we can bring progress to the country. I ask that you help one another accomplish the task."


Updated : 2020-12-05 01:35 GMT+08:00