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General news >> Saturday June 23, 2007

City police chief bans motorcycle taxi drivers from anti-CNS rally


Motorcycle taxi drivers in Bangkok and adjacent provinces will not be allowed to join an anti-coup rally led by the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD) today at Sanam Luang in a bid to maintain order, Metropolitan Police chief Adisorn Nonsi said. The commissioner said he had instructed all police stations in Bangkok and adjacent provinces, including Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Samut Sakhon and Nakhon Pathom, to stay alert for a possible move by motorcycle taxi drivers in their areas of jurisdiction.

Police are to ensure that motorcycle taxi drivers in their areas refrain from joining any anti-coup activities, particularly the DAAD-led rally at Sanam Luang, which is to begin at noon.

Upcountry, there are reports authorities have beefed up security measures, banning any gatherings in public places and blocking local people from travelling to the capital to join the rally.

Chalard back in his cage
Democracy activist Chalard Vorachat locks himself in a cage in a mock protest against the Sept 19 coup. The activist hung up a sign saying he has been sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of opposing dictatorship. — PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD

Core DAAD leaders said they planned to lead the protesters in a march from Sanam Luang to the army headquarters where the office of the Council for National Security (CNS) is located at around 2.30pm today to pressure CNS chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin to respond to their demand for negotiations. They said the rally could draw up to 100,000 supporters.

Last night, the DAAD played a taped conversation which they said suggested Privy Council president Gen Prem Tinsulanonda was behind the downfall of the former Election Commission (EC) led by Pol Gen Wasana Permlarp.

The conversation was claimed to be between Virat Chinvinijkul, then Supreme Court secretary, and Pairote Navanuch, a Supreme Court judge, who allegedly phoned a C-11 official asking him to help lobby the former EC to quit or face jail. The official, who was not identified, recorded the conversation.

DAAD leader Jakrapob Penkair told the demonstrators that Mr Pairote was close to Gen Prem and suggested that Gen Prem was behind the conviction of the former EC members.

Jatuporn Prompan said he would bring the tape over to former Supreme Court judge Manit Jitjanklap to decide if charges could be pressed against Mr Virat and Gen Prem.

Last night's rally drew over 10,000 people, many of whom left after listening to the conversation. Meanwhile, Gen Saprang Kalayanamitr, assistant army chief and deputy secretary-general of the CNS, yesterday said he did not believe Gen Sonthi had begged for the top army job from deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, as alleged by DAAD leaders.

Gen Saprang made his remarks in response to a claim by DAAD leaders that they possessed an audio recording featuring Gen Sonthi ''begging'', to support their accusation. The recording would be played during the rally today.

Gen Saprang said he believes in Gen Sonthi's integrity.

Sonthiya Sawasdi, a former executive of the Prachakorn Thai party, yesterday petitioned police to take action against the anti-coup Saturday Voice group which is conducting a signature-collection campaign to ask His Majesty the King to dismiss Gen Prem as Privy Council president.

The Saturday Voice, an ally of the DAAD, plans to submit its petition to the King on Monday.

Meanwhile, Chalard Vorachat, the veteran political activist, locked himself up in a makeshift cell in front of parliament in a symbolic move as he joined the anti-coup protest.

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