Cabinet OKs using Internal Security Act to counter Saturday’s rally

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BANGKOK, Nov 22 – Thailand’s cabinet resolved today to apply the Internal Security Act (ISA) to counter an anti-government rally Saturday, according to a government official. 

Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Varathep Ratanakorn announced the decision after a special meeting of nine ministers chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm

Yubumrung at Government House.

Mr Varathep said the move was in response to the coming anti-government rally led by the Pitak Siam group. The law will be enforced in three capital districts — Dusit, Phra Nakhon and Pom Prap Sattru Phai — with immediate effect from today through Nov 30.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has instructed security agencies concerned to apply the law prudently with people’s rights and liberties being taken into account. Law enforcement must be in accordance with international standards, she said.

She also stated that the law must be revoked once the situation returns to normal, according to the minister.

The premier will appear on national television this evening to address the public and clarify the government’s decision.

The cabinet decision came after the National Security Council (NSC) asked the government to enforce the ISA in response to the anti-government rally whose sponsors claim their ‘massive’ gathering will bring down the administration of Yingluck Shinawatra.

Exercising the ISA, earlier rejected by the authorities, signals the authorities’ nervousness regarding the scale of the political rally, which they fear could be much greater than earlier

expected.

The demonstration, organised by Pitak Siam leader and retired army officer Gen Boonlert Kaewprasit, will be held at the Royal Plaza but the crowd may spill over to nearby areas. The Royal Plaza is adjacent to Government House, Parliament and many state office buildings.

NSC secretary general Lt-Gen Paradorn Pattanathabutr said the ISA will help the authorities keep public order at buildings given an intelligence report of a potentially-escalating situation and much larger crowd than earlier predicted.

Under the ISA, the national police chief will be the central figure in maintaining public order, said Gen Paradorn, adding that the ISA will be preventive, not suppressive, in its use.