BANGKOK: Thailand’s government is to ask the army to deploy more troops in the capital, Bangkok, as fears mount that the country’s lengthy political crisis could move into a more violent phase.
Surapong Tovichakchaikul, a deputy prime minister, voiced concern yesterday about the potential for clashes between pro- and anti-government groups if Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is ousted in May as a result of legal cases brought against her.
Yingluck, who has faced six months of street protests aimed at forcing her out, has been charged with abuse of power for her transfer of National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri in 2011, which opponents say was done for personal and party political reasons. If found guilty, she may have to step down.
Yingluck’s ousting would be the latest twist in nearly a decade of confrontation between her brother, ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, and the Bangkok-based royalist establishment, who see Thaksin, a populist former telecoms tycoon, as a threat to their interests. Both sides can whip up large crowds on the streets and both sides have armed activists in their ranks.
“There are important legal cases coming up next month and the red shirts will rally,” said Surapong, who heads the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order. The “red shirts” are supporters of the Shinawatras and Yingluck’s government and they have vowed to resist any bid to force Yingluck from office, by either the anti-government protesters or the courts. “We are worried there will be violence and clashes between the protesters and the red shirts, which is why we must increase the presence of troops to protect security,” he told reporters. Reuters