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Thai PM says he wants to prevent political protests, from either side

PHOTO: Runners at the Bangkok "Wing Lai Lung" event -

In a move that is sure to be seen as a bid to stifle opposition gatherings, protests and debate, the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is voicing concern that opposition-organised political rallies, as well as those of his supporters. will “lead to fresh conflicts”. The PM told reporters yesterday that “…he has instructed security authorities to find ways to prevent such activities in the future”.

Gen Prayut told reporters that he doesn’t want to see divisions among the public.

“People should not be divided according to the group they belong to or along the lines of old and new generations. This will not benefit the country whatsoever. We must find ways to cooperate,” the prime minister was reported as saying in the Bangkok Post.

“No matter who wants to support or oust me, I don’t want anything that will lead to violence to happen again.”

Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon has also said he disapproves of a planned anti-Prayut run in Chiang Mai on February 2. He says the event would “only deepen social divisions”.

Meanwhile, Tanawat Wongchai, the organiser of the “Wing Lai Lung” (Run to Oust the Uncle) held in the Chatuchak area last Sunday, maintained the Chiang Mai event would go ahead, despite the threats from the PM. An event, to show support for Prayut and the Government, called “Dern Cheer Lung” (Walk in Support of Uncle), was also held at Lumpini Park in central Bangkok on Sunday.

Complimentary anti-government events for “Wing Lai Lung” were also held in other provinces – Buri Ram, Phayao, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima and Nakhon Pathom. Metropolitan Police confirmed that 14,178 people participated in the Bangkok “Run Against Dictatorship” event. Various police estimates from the other provinces indicate and addition 2,500 people joined from provinces outside Bangkok.

A Future Forward Party MP, spokesman of the House committee on law, justice and human rights, and anti-government activist, Rangsiman Rome, claimed that some participants in the last Sunday’s anti-Prayut event in Buri Ram were summonsed by police to “acknowledge charges for violating the public assembly law”.

Pol Col Pramote Uthakit, from the Nakhon Phanom police station, told reporters that rally organisers “failed to seek permission in advance to hold the activity from police”.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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