BANGKOK (The Nation): Police General Salang Bunnag yesterday revived his threat to “retake” Government House from the anti-government protesters, saying that his planned operation would begin after a religious ceremony to be held nearby on Wednesday.
Salang, a former deputy police chief, said he would lead more than 1,000 inactive or retired policemen to retake the compound and return it to the Thai people. He said a religious ceremony would be held on October 22 at the Royal Plaza where more than 10,000 Buddhist monks would say a mass prayer to bless the country and “mend torn Thai society”.
Protesters affiliated with the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) have occupied Government House for more than two months.
Salang yesterday asked anyone interested in attending the ceremony to dress in white, and said the event, which would begin at 1pm, would be limited to the Royal Plaza itself. “But after the event is over, I shall be ready to lead the 1,000 inactive policemen to retake Government House,” he added.
Suriyasai Katasila, coordinator of the PAD, which spearheaded the protesters who seized Government House on August 26, said yesterday it would be difficult to avoid confrontations and clashes if the ceremony went ahead. “A bloodbath would be inevitable, and the PAD leaders have no way to control hundreds of thousands of PAD members,” he said.
He said Salang was merely a nominee used in planned crackdowns on the PAD. “Salang’s motive and stance have aroused public suspicion and will enrage the public [should clashes occur],” he said.
“I do not believe Salang is planning the ceremony for his own purposes; somebody is no doubt pulling strings behind the scenes. Whether it is the prime minister or ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra I would not know,” he added.
Suriyasai also called on Army commander General Anupong Paochinda not to hold back over Salang’s announcement about the ceremony.
Meanwhile, Army Maj-General Khattiya Sawasdiphol said he would mobilise government supporters against any military attempt to seize political power.
He said members of the pro-government Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship (DAAD) would use petrol bombs against tanks and military vehicles taking part in a coup attempt.
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