Police expect 80,000-100,000 people will show up for the anti-government protest held by the Pitak Siam group this Saturday.
That figure is double the number predicted by the National Security Council, which has estimated there will be about 40,000-50,000 demonstrators.
Pol Maj Gen Adul Narongsak, deputy chief of Bangkok police, said yesterday protesters from distant provinces would reach the Royal Plaza on Friday night and protesters in Bangkok and adjacent provinces would enter the rally venue on Saturday morning.
Pol Maj Gen Adul denied that police have tried to prevent demonstrators from entering the capital. He said police will operate checkpoints to search for weapons and ensure safety during the rally, not to prevent protesters from reaching the demonstration.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra ordered police to prevent proponents and opponents of the government from confronting each other.
Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said there were no signs the protest would turn violent.
He rejected ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's claim that soldiers were joining the anti-government movement.
"I've never told any soldiers to join the rally.
"One should verify his information before making any remark," Gen Prayuth said.
Defence Minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat said yesterday military commanders have instructed their subordinates not to join the demonstration.
The minister said a war room had been set up to monitor the Pitak Siam rally.
National Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattanathabutr said he expects 40,000-50,000 protesters to join the rally. It would be a peaceful protest, he added.
He said 50,000 security officers would be deployed.
Pro-government red-shirt demonstrators would not be allowed to approach the rally venue at the Royal Plaza, he added.
Lt Gen Paradorn said he has heard reports that 4,000-5,000 red T-shirts have been made for imposters who plan to disguise themselves as red-shirt supporters to instigate unrest. He warned that if the situation gets out of control, the Internal Security Act would be imposed.
Pitak Siam leader Gen Boonlert Kaewprasit said the actions of his group would depend on the number of demonstrators. He pledged to end the rally at once if the crowd does not exceed 200,000 people. Gen Boonlert has set a target of 1 million people to join the rally. He said this will be Pitak Siam's last demonstration.
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Writer: Wassana Nanuam & Patsara Jikkham