Thai authorities jittery as anti-government rally nears

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BANGKOK, Nov 16 –  Security agencies concerned about the upcoming Pitak Siam anti-government rally will meet Monday at Government House in a meeting to be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung as the Nov 24 protest date draws nearer. 

Secretary general Paradorn Pattanathabutr of the National Security Council (NSC) said today that the meeting will evaluate the scale of the rally and crowd-control measures to deal with the demonstrators, initially estimated at 50,000-60,000 people.

Police will exercise the Korakot Plan in handling the crowd, he said. The plan gives detailed guidelines for  taking demonstrators into custody —  from bare-handed arrests, using handcuffs, tear gas and more. It clearly assigns responsibilities to specific officers to control the crowd.

Lt-Gen Paradorn said it has yet to be decided whether the National Security Act will be imposed during the political action, adding that it will mainly depend on the size of the crowd.

He said safety measures will be reinforced in areas near the demonstration, the Royal Plaza, including checks for weapons to prevent a third party from infiltrating the rally.

Security officials spoke with retired Gen Boonlert Kaewprasit, the Pitak Siam leader, who promised to closely supervise the crowd and to maintain order.

Opposition Red Shirt supporters have been instructed to not demonstrate in response and to otherwise avoid confrontation, he said.