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Military to monitor political rally

( - The army is ready to launch "security operation Pathaphi 149" to control crowds at Sanam Luang Friday night if things get out of hand, Council for National Security chairman Sonthi Boonyaratkalin said.

Operators of satellite-based PTV are to organise an anti-government rally. Organisers said they "intend to mention" the CNS and possibly Privy Council president Gen Prem Tinsulanonda.

The city administration claimed the field was previously booked by a sports group, but PTV organisers, associated with the ousted Thaksin Shinawatra regime, said they intended to go ahead.

Gen Sonthi said the military would step in "if the rally leads to violence." Police would work with the army to monitor the rally and prevent any third parties from creating violent activities, he explained.

"We are ready to use Pathaphi 149," he said.

Pathaphi 149 refers to an emergency plan formulated last year, and originally intended to protect the army from public rallies, not the other way around.

Under the plan, an army company of four platoons (roughly 250 men), along with military police and attack dogs, would line up against protesters, behind comandeered fire trucks and a mobile radio vehicle.

However, Gen Sonthi said Bangkokians to relax as he believed things would be under control.

He said that PTV executives could face legal charges if they negatively refer to Gen Prem.

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