A giant firecracker exploded in front of the house of an anti-government rally leader ahead of a mass demonstration later this month in which some 50,000 policemen will be deployed to keep security. Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung yesterday revealed that 50,000 force members would be used to keep law and order. He also told red shirts not to hold a rally to counter the November 23 protest.
The firecracker exploded in front of the house of General Boonlert Kaewprasit, leader of the Pitak Sayam movement, on Sukhumvit Soi 54 at 8pm Monday night. But Metropolitan Police Commissioner Pol Lt-General Kamronvit Thupkrajang played down the firecracker explosion, saying it was a normal incident before the Loy Krathong festival.
A soldier guarding Boonlert's house alerted police when the firecracker was thrown on the road in front of Boonlert's house and exploded. Police rushed to the scene and found no suspect. Boonlert has planned the second rally against the government at the Royal Plaza on November 24. The rally is expected to draw more protesters than the first rally at the Royal Turf Club last month where more than 10,000 people had gathered. The People's Alliance for Democracy has given the go-ahead for yellow-shirt people to join the Boonlert-led rally.
Chalerm said he was worried that a third-party group might create an ugly situation by causing violence during the rally hence he did not want any red-shirt group to hold a counter-demonstration in Bangkok. Earlier, Sangiam Samranrat, a leader of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship in Chumphon, announced he would lead red shirts from his province to hold a demonstration to counter Boonlert's group. Chalerm said Sangiam had been told by core Pheu Thai members to cancel the plan.
"I believe no red shirts would travel to the rally site. But what I am worried about is that intelligence operations of police and security agencies have learned that a third party may try to create a disturbance," Chalerm said. He said if a third party caused a violent incident, it would be difficult for the police to control the situation.
Chalerm said he had assigned Police Commissioner-General Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew to be in full charge of the operations to keep security during the demonstration on November 24. Chalerm said police and security agencies expected that there would be some 50,000 demonstrators so Adul would deploy enough policemen to control the situation.
Chalerm said police commissioners nationwide would gather at Government House and Parliament to monitor the situation on the demonstration day. Chalerm said police would also prepare an exit for MPs to leave Parlia-ment if the Boonlert-led protesters tried to storm into the Parliament compound on November 25 when the Opposition holds a no-confidence debate against the government.
Phetchawat Watanapongsirikul, an adviser to the social development and human security minister, said his Rak Chiang Mai group had some 5,000 red shirts on stand by. He said if Boonlert's group created a disturbance, the 5,000 red shirts would reach Bangkok in two hours to counter the group.