Thailand vows to arrest 14 core protest leaders

Thailand vows to arrest 14 core protest leaders

22Bangkok, May 12 (IANS)┬áThailand’s Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) has vowed to use police force to arrest 14 core members of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), including protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, media reported Monday.

CAPO secretary Tarit Pengdith announced the operation Sunday following the Office of the Attorney-General’s (OAG) decision Thursday to indict 51 PDRC members, including 14 core leaders who already face arrest warrants for treason, the Bangkok Post reported.

The court Monday will hear the OAG’s request to indict the 51 PDRC members, after which arrest warrants will be issued.

Pengdith said police would not disperse the protestors but would target the leaders instead.

The Arintharat Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit will assist the arrest operations.

Pengdith also said that the 14 protest leaders are being guarded by PDRC security forces, so CAPO would break its operation into 14 sub-operations to arrest the suspects.

The arrest operation is absolutely necessary for preventing clashes between the anti- and pro-government members which could ultimately lead to a civil war.

PDRC protestors Friday marched to various locations in Bangkok in a “final battle” to oust the caretaker government and to usher in reform before the next election.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban led one procession to the Government House which has been closed for months, and said he would wait there for new caretaker Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisarn to come for talks.

The protestors moved towards five TV stations, the Government House, the parliament complex and the CAPO head office.

In response, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), red shirts or the pro-government supporters also staged a rally Saturday and urged its members to remain peaceful and avoid actions that might trigger a coup with the PDRC protestors.

Thailand’s former caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra was removed from the premiership Wednesday for abuse of power for unlawful transfer of a senior security official.

Yingluck was also impeached Thursday for a decision she had taken in a costly rice-pledging scheme.

The anti-graft agency will forward the case to the Senate to seek her impeachment.

If found guilty, Yingluck can be banned from politics for five years.

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