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3 Bangkok districts under ISA
Publication Date : 01-08-2013
The Thai Cabinet yesterday invoked the Internal Security Act (ISA) in three Bangkok districts ahead of a House debate on an amnesty bill, during which an anti-government group plans a large rally.
At their meeting chaired by Deputy PM Niwattumrong Boon-songpaisan, a third of the Cabinet members resolved to enforce the ISA in the districts of Dusit, Phra Nakhon and Pom Prab (Sattru Phai) - where key political institutions such as Government House and Parliament are located.
The ISA will be in effect from today to August 10.
The National Police chief will act as head of a peacekeeping centre to be set up at the Royal Thai Police headquarters, according to National Security Council secretary-general Lt-General Paradorn Pattanatabutr, who called yesterday's meeting.
The police will monitor the situation around the clock to prevent any clashes between supporters and opponents of the bill, he said.
The ISA was invoked after increased concern about possible violence between both sides and the likely involvement of a third party, according to the NSC chief.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who is on an overseas trip, was aware of the resolution by the "mini-Cabinet", Paradorn said.
The police will prevent protesters from trespassing on the grounds of any state agency and law will be strictly enforced against any violators, according to Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner Pol Maj-General Parinya Jansuriya. He said protest leaders had been asked to stay within areas designated by police and to not block traffic.
The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) announced yesterday it would not take part in protests against an amnesty bill - although it was against any law that would provide amnesty to criminal offenders during political conflict.
"We call on the MPs involved to withdraw their amnesty bill in order to allow all parties [involved in the conflicts] to prove their innocence through the legal process, in a fair manner," PAD spokesman Parnthep Puapongphan read from a statement yesterday. Key PAD leaders including Sondhi Lim-thongkul, Piphob Dhongchai and Somkiat Pongpaiboon were present at the press conference.
Parnthep said the PAD leaders resolved unanimously not to be involved in any political rally at this time. Ninety-six of the group's leading figures and supporters have been banned by the Criminal Court from taking part in such events.
The House debate on the amnesty bill proposed by a group of Pheu Thai MPs is scheduled from 1pm to 11pm next Wednesday, according to Pheu Thai MP Amnuay Klangpha. He said the debate would not be telecast live through state-run TV Channel 11.
The proposed law would grant amnesty to anti-government protesters convicted of offences relating to the 2010 unrest.
He said after the bill passed the first reading, a 35-member vetting committee would be set up consisting of MPs from different political parties and only one Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hema.
Pheu Thai MP Korkaew Pikulthong, who is also a red-shirt leader, said yesterday that red-shirt MPs should not be appointed to the vetting committee in order to avoid suspicion of possible bias.
Jatuporn Promphan, another key red-shirt leader, said yesterday that he would call a meeting of red-shirt leaders this Saturday to assess the situation and "fight in a united way". He warned the red shirts against gathering to counter anti-government protesters.
"The current situation is not normal. If we take a misstep, we will face the same fate as we did before," he said.
Meanwhile, the Democrat Party yesterday called on the government to review its push for an amnesty bill, in order to avoid violence. "The aggressive standpoint will not benefit the government or the PM," Democrat spokesman Chavanont Intarakomal-yasut said. He said that in invoking the ISA ahead of the anti-government protests, the government was practising double standards.