Thai authorities deploy police to retake Bangkok protest sites this week

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BANGKOK, Feb 16 – Thailand’s police have been instructed to reclaim the five major capital protest sites occupied by protesters of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and its allies this week.

Caretaker Labour Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, as director of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO),said Sunday on live television that he had ordered the police to deploy in an operation to reclaim the major areas occupied by anti-government protesters.

He said the protesters must no longer block areas around Government House including the Orathai Bridge, the Chamai Maruchet Bridge and Miksakawan Intersection.

The authorities efforts will include Rajdamnern Avenue and the nearby Makkhawan Rrangsan and Pan Fah Leelat Bridges as well as the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Energy as many people are suffering and there have been many complaints.

Meanwhile, PDRC core member Phra Buddha Issara and protesters based at the government complex on Chaeng Wattana Road must withdraw from those areas or legal action will be taken against them, the CMPO director said.

According to Mr Chalerm, the authorities will attempt not to use force against the protesters but weapons will be used if police are attacked by the protesters.

Mr Chalerm stressed that there will be no further talks between the government and its opponents as every session held recently–more than 10 times–failed, so those occupying the five designated areas should leave immediately.

Reclamation operations at Government House and the police’s negotiation with protest leaders there will be broadcast live on Channels 9 and 11.

“The government has been very patient in order to restore peace to the society,” Mr Chalerm said, “but this week action will be taken to clear all protests at all five major sites.”