No “iron fist” to disperse demonstrators, says Thai prime minister
Police who were ordered to disperse demonstrators have been reluctant to do so. Instead they are keeping a watchful eye on the situation from a certain distance to monitor what protesters are up to.
For their part the crowd of demonstrators has set up makeshift barricades of car tires, razor wire and steel crash barriers on access roads, calling on the prime minister to quit, accusing him of being a puppet in the hands of his predecessor Thaksin Shinawatra, who was in exile, and might still face trial on several charges for corruption.
Samak said he does not want to resort to the use of force, but slams the acts of provocation by the demonstrators against the military.
“They [PAD supporters] want bloodshed in the country,” he said. “They want the military to come out and do the coup again.”
Protests began on Tuesday when some 30,000, conservative-leaning, pro-monarchy and pro-army PAD sympathisers, took to the streets demanding the prime minister’s resignation.
A court issued an order to demonstrators that they leave the government compound or face legal and police action. The latter countered by saying that their action was designed to “protect the monarchy,” which in their view is threatened by an alleged plot by former Prime Minister Thaksin “to turn Thailand into a republic.”
Major General Suraphol Tuanthong, the deputy police spokesman, said warrants were issued against nine protest leaders on charges of insurrection, conspiracy, illegal assembly and refusing orders to disperse.
Under Thai law insurrection is the legal equivalent of treason and carries a maximum penalty of death or life imprisonment.
For now the government seems averse to using an iron fist against demonstrators, but the situation could change in the next few hours.