ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
BANGKOK, Dec 16 – Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban stood firm that the military brass has not endorsed Thailand’s general election on February 2 as claimed by a senior defence officer.
He said the supreme commander and leaders of the three armed forces did not raise the issue of the February 2 election during Saturday’s dialogue, attended by about 100 people including himself and nearly 20 members of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).
Permanent Secretary for Defence Gen Nipat Thonglek announced in the government-sponsored forum to find resolutions to the country’s political conflicts at Queen Sirikit Convention Centre yesterday that the top brass openly announced their support of the general election on February 2.
Mr Suthep said that Gen Nipat had reported the support of the top bras the day before, when in fact they had not made such an endorsement.
The supreme commander said he could dispatch nearly 400,000 personnel of the armed forces to ensure a fair and clean election if necessary, Gen Nipat told the forum.
Gen Nipat said the armed forces, particularly the supreme commander, have insisted that they strictly follow the Constitution and protect the country’s constitutional administration.
Mr Suthep, in his statement to protesters at the Democracy Monument last night, vehemently announced that a general election must not be held before a national reform takes place.
He said Gen Nipat, in his capacity as permanent secretary for defence, is not empowered to order leaders of the armed forces and their chains of command are separated.
The former Democrat MP claimed that the people will definitely boycott the general election unless it is organised after the national reform.
“If the government is stubborn and holds an election, it will not be a smooth one and you won’t have MPs in every province. Seats in Bangkok and Surat Thani will be vacant,” said Mr Suthep who was MP from the southern province of Surat Thani.
He said PDRC members will need a few days to decide if another call will be made for a citywide demonstration in Bangkok after five million people poured onto the streets in a massive protest against the Yingluck Shinawatra government on December 9. (MCOT online news)
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