Army, police on full alert for Sunday’s election

Army, police on full alert for Sunday’s election

BANGKOK, Jan 31 – Thailand’s Army will be on full alert countrywide, but particularly in Bangkok, to provide safety and prevent possible clashes among opposing factions when Thai people go to the polls Sunday.

Wintai Suvaree, army deputy spokesman, said Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered deployment of army forces near polling stations and sporadic patrols on tollways as requested by the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

“Army personnel will be assigned to many locations in the capital. We cannot deploy permanent forces on tollways but the army chief has ordered additional security measures on tall buildings and higher ground,” he said.

Meanwhile, caretaker Labour Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who is concurrently director of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO), petitioned the Civil Court this morning against the PDRC bid for a court ruling to revoke the government-imposed Emergency Decree.

The Civil Court is scheduled to announce this afternoon whether the state of emergency, declared by the caretaker government on Jan 22, will be nullified following a petition by PDRC core leader Thaworn Senneam.

Mr Chalerm said the government will handle the situation the same whether the Emergency Decree is in force or not, for it has never contemplated dispersing rallies.

“If the court revokes the Emergency Decree, it is up to the prime minister on who will take charge of the CMPO. I plead the premier to allow me to continue the job as I’m ready to work,” he said.

Mr Chalerm was appointed director of the CMPO which was immediately set up after the Emergency Decree was invoked.

He said protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban and the PDRC must be held responsible for violence in the South in light of a report that PDRC members seized the postal office in Hat Yai to blockade the transfer of ballots to polling stations.

He threatened to arrest Mr Suthep after the Sunday’s elections and called on people not to block polling stations, or they would be liable to imprisonment for disrupting the elections.

Police have been instructed to be on full alert to prevent clashes between PDRC protesters and voters who go to the polls on Sunday, he said. (MCOT online news)