Army chief: No chance at all of coup

Army chief: No chance at all of coup

Protesters warned, royal palaces are off-limits

Anti-government protesters on a truck with the Grand Palace behind them, during the rally at Sanam Luang on Sunday. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Anti-government protesters on a truck with the Grand Palace behind them, during the rally at Sanam Luang on Sunday. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Army chief Gen Narongphan Jitkaewtae has ruled out any chance of a military coup to end the political crisis fuelled by months of rallies by protesters whose demands include reform of the monarchy.

"Below zero," the most powerful man in the armed forces replied when asked on Monday about the chances of a coup.

Royalists on Sunday spoke of calling for a coup after thousands of anti-government protesters again rallied in support of demands for reform of the monarchy. They later calmed down, instead opting to submit a petition giving the army their moral support in defendng the royal institution.

The rally on Sunday led to police again firing water cannon, this time to hold back demonstrators at Sanam Luang who were advancing towards the blockade set up to prevent them going to the Grand Palace to petition His Majesty the King.

Police stayed behind a row of parked buses and coils of wire across the road.

The marchers then, instead dropped their letters to the King in dummy post boxes, and finaally dispersed. (continues below)

A video taken during the confrontation showed a man throwing what appeared to be a firework over a bus at police standing behind it.

Piyarat Chongthep, a key member of the People's Movement, the main organisers of the protests, posted a message on his Facebook account saying it was a firework that gave off colourful smoke. One of the security volunteers lobbed it at police to cloud their vision after  the water cannon was unleashed on the demonstrators, he said.

There was never any intention to use any form of violence during the demonstration, he added.

Gen Narongphan said on Monday he strongly opposed any violent means, but stressed the point that all royal palaces were off-limits to the protesters.

He admitted that soldiers wearing yellow were stationed behind police lines during the rallies, so they could help police or other people as necessary.

Men in civvies with military bearing and cropped haircuts and wearing yellow have been seen mingling with supporters of the monarchy and behind police security blockades on several occasions.

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