Isoc warns of protest provocateurs

Isoc warns of protest provocateurs

Organisers of this weekend's anti-regime rally must ensure no "third hands" cause disturbances at the gathering, says Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) spokesman Peerawat Sangthong.

While security forces will be deployed to maintain peace and order, protest organisers must also ensure that no one with ill-intent infiltrate the gathering and instigate unrest, he said. The anti-coup Democracy Restoration Group (DRG) and the Start Up People are planning a major rally at Thammasat University's Tha Prachan campus on Saturday.

The groups have demanded the election be held this year, faster than the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)'s roadmap, which has tentatively scheduled the poll for early next year. The groups led a rally drawing about 400 people on March 24 in Bangkok, at which they called on the army to stop supporting the NCPO.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday the poll will go ahead early next year, claiming that previous delays to the election roadmap were to allow organic laws needed for holding elections to be passed.

DRG leader Rangsiman Rome on Wednesdaysaid people have the right to protest. The people need to participate in the country's administration, although the form of participation varies, he said, adding protests help keep the government in check. To claim that protests hurt the economy and stir up unrest are excuses by those in power use to prolong their grip on power, Mr Rangsiman said.

"Forfeiting our right to protest is tantamount to giving up our human rights," he said.

Maj Gen Peerawat said organisers of the Saturday rally must account for anything untoward that might transpire.

Isoc staff have visited the provinces to "educate" people about the next election, he said. Maj Gen Peerawat said they had received no information during visits that locals felt an urgent need for elections. But many residents stressed the need for local development, jobs and more income.

Maj Gen Peerawat said the visits came in response to army chief Chalermchai Sitthisad's policy of making Isoc an agency people believe they can rely on for help.

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