Thousands of police mobilised to handle protesters in Bangkok on Saturday
The Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) plans to deploy more than 5,000 officers at 14 locations at and near the Grand Palace, the Democracy Monument and Government House in Bangkok, where at least three anti-government groups plan to hold protests tomorrow to put pressure on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign.
Pol Maj-Gen Piya Tavichai, deputy commissioner and spokesman of the MPB, said today that the bulk of the police force will be deployed to two strategic points, Panichakarn intersection in front of Government House and at the Royal Rattanakosin Hotel on Rajdamnoen Avenue, which is about a kilometre from the Grand Palace.
He claimed that police have received intelligence that some elements among the protesters may try to incite unrest, in which case, he said, the police would respond with crowd control measures in line with international standards to prevent the unrest from getting out of control.
He also warned protest leaders, against whom arrest warrants have been issued or who are wanted by the police for previous alleged offences, that they will be arrested on sight.
Protesters in general are warned that public assembly is against the Emergency Decree, as well as the Communicable Disease Control Act and, as such, they may face prosecution.
According to the protest groups’ websites, the Free Youth movement, which is a radical group of protesters known for its frequent clashes with the police, will rally at the Democracy Monument, before marching toward the Grand Palace.
The second group, comprised of mostly active and former vocational students, plans to head for Government House in a procession of cars and motorcycles, dubbed “car mob” protest.
The third group, comprised of mostly former members of the Red Shirt movement from Bangkok’s neighboring provinces, plans to join the Free Youth movement at the Democracy Monument. Former core leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, or “red-shirt movement”, Nattawut Saikua, earlier announced that he will not join the protests tomorrow.
Several royalist groups have voiced sharp criticism of the protesters’ plan to march to the Grand Palace and want to confront them, but they were warned by their leaders to remain calm and let the police do their job in dealing with the protests.