Red Shirt rally called off early; leaders vow to gather again, regroup


BANGKOK, April 7 – Pro-government demonstration leaders today cut short their intended three-day rally on Aksa Road and sent demonstrators back to their home provinces.

The rally was originally scheduled for three days, ending this evening, but red shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leader Jatuporn Promphan announced on stage the decision to call off the activity.

‘This is just a rehearsal for the next rally the venue of which we will keep confidential,’ he said, boasting that the next event will be extremely crowded with a massive number of supporters.

Mr Jatuporn accepted a challenge by anti-government leader Suthep Thaugsuban to conduct a comparative count on the number of demonstrators for both factions.

Mr Suthep is secretary general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) which has been involved in anti-government movement for more than five months.

UDD leader Nattawut Saikua said the rally on Aksa Road was successful in both quality and quantity and it is unnecessary to compare with the quantity with PDRC demonstration.

“Since we follow democracy– which is accepted by people worldwide– it’s the same as a victory for us. The next battle will be a new chapter in the history of Thailand,” he said.

City administration employees started cleaning the much-littered Aksa Road after Red Shirt supporters left the scene, while explosives experts and police dogs were assigned to search for possible bomb substances in the rally site.

Meanwhile, PDRC core leader Thavorn Senneam said the PDRC’s proposal for a neutral prime minister would not lead to a sovereignty state but it is a process to resolve the country’s political stalemate in case caretaker premier Yingluck Shinawatra refuses to accept rulings of the Constitution Court or the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

Ms Yingluck will be subject to step down if either of the two agencies finds her guilty agrees with charges against her for dereliction of duty in the rice pledging scheme and abuse of power in the transfer of Thawil Pliensri, chief of the National Security Council to an inactive post.

He said the PDRC will allow the reopening of government buildings which have been sealed off as part of its anti-government protests but caretaker Cabinet members will be barred from entering their respective ministries.