UDD spooked by spectre of Sam Mitr

UDD spooked by spectre of Sam Mitr

Nattawut labels some members as 'fakes'

Members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) faction in Surin have denied they are "fake" red-shirt supporters after forming an alliance with the pro-regime Sam Mitr political group.

Some core members of the UDD have reportedly been approached by the Sam Mitr (Three Allies) amid warnings from red-shirt co-leader Nattawut Saikuar they could be driven out of the UDD if they support a party which defies democracy and keeps the regime in power.

Thepphanom Namlee, leader of a UDD chapter in Surin labelled fake red shirts, maintained his group members are the genuine UDD rank and file. The accusation that some members are fake was allegedly made by Mr Nattawut in recent remarks.

However, Mr Thepphanom admitted he has met Pirom Polwiset, secretary to the Sam Mitr group, although the talks did not involve a political agenda.

The UDD is allied with the Pheu Thai Party which also claims several of its former MPs were poached by Sam Mitr for the Phalang Pracharat Party, considered by some as a vehicle to secure Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's return as premier after an election early next year.

Mr Thepphanom said some UDD leaders may be preaching a democracy which does not exist within their own movement.

He added that in the past, some UDD members would be enlisted to talk on stage during the mass street demonstrations only when they had connections with the senior people who ran the UDD.

"So how can I believe those people really love democracy?" he said.

Mr Thepphanom said he was elected by more than 70,000 red-shirt supporters to lead the UDD chapter in Surin, which he insisted should speak volumes about his "genuineness" as a UDD member.

He added he stands ready to support Gen Prayut's return as premier after the poll provided it is based on democracy with members of parliament raising hands to support him.

Under the current charter, parties represented in parliament can nominate their prime minister candidates. If the parties cannot agree on the choices among them, an outsider premier candidate can be nominated and put to a vote jointly between the MPs and senators.

Mr Thepphanom said that many red-shirt supporters still looked up to former premier Thaksin Shinawatra but that they now need to look ahead and work with Sam Mitr to solve political conflicts and serve the public.

He said he has respect for veteran politician and former transport minister Suriya Jungrungreangkij, a Sam Mitr co-leader.

Mr Nattawut said yesterday he has nothing against UDD supporters cosying up to Sam Mitr. But he opposes the regime using trickery to prolong its grip on power.

He also said he could not confirm whether former UDD key figure Suporn Atthawong was breaking away from the red-shirt movement to back Phalang Pracharat.

Mr Suporn is reportedly a member of Nakhon Ratchasima-based Phalang Korat, a newly formed group made up of the province's former MPs affiliated to Pheu Thai. It announced last month it was taking the side of Phalang Pracharat.

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