Protesters issue blackout threats
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Protesters issue blackout threats

3 anti-Thaksin groups link up for 'major battle

Blue Sky Channel sells whistles to supporters at 25 baht each.
Blue Sky Channel sells whistles to supporters at 25 baht each.

Anti-government protest groups on Friday threatened to cut off electricity and water at state offices in the capital and at Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's residence on Monday.

Protesters from the Network of Students and People for Thailand’s Reform gather in front of Pheu Thai Party headquarters on Phetchaburi Road on Friday, where they called on MPs who voted to support the draft charter amendment on the Senate’s composition to quit politics. The Constitution Court ruled on Wednesday the draft amendment is unlawful. THITI WANNAMONTHA

The move is aimed at escalating the push to oust the Yingluck government following tomorrow's "major battle day" called by ex-Democrat MP and protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who hopes to attract up to 1 million demonstrators.

Mr Suthep on Friday said the State Enterprises Workers' Relations Confederation has agreed to join the protest and that staff at the agencies "might cut off electricity and water at all state offices and the house of the prime minister".

"So I warn state officials that you will have two options - join us to fight against this government or stay under Yingluck's skirt," Mr Suthep said. "But you may have to work without water and electricity."

After staying at Democracy Monument overnight on Sunday, demonstrators will on Monday scatter into 12 groups and march along 12 roads in the capital. However, Mr Suthep declined to specify which roads would be affected

"However, I can confirm that the marches will be peaceful," he said.

He said that the ruling Pheu Thai Party has rejected the Constitution Court's ruling and that means it rejected the charter as well. As a result, this government is unlawful, he said.

"State officials should ask yourselves if you want to stand by the people or by a government which will be ousted soon," Mr Suthep said.

The Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand (NSPRT), based at the Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge, and the People's Democratic Force to Overthrow Thaksinism (Pefot) at the Phan Fa Bridge are ready to join the Ratchadamnoen rally group.

The NSPRT protesters on Friday moved closer to police barricades set up on Chamai Maruchet Bridge near Government House.

Some protesters also blocked the access route to Government House on the Orathai Bridge.

NSPRT coordinator Uthai Yodmanee said the network's Makkhawan Bridge demonstration base will be taken over by rally participants led by the Dhamma Army and those from the Ratchadamnoen protest led by Mr Suthep.

Mr Uthai said various groups of demonstrators will merge on Sunday under a pact reached by the leaders of the three main groups.

He announced their next move is for the protesters to surround Government House in an attempt to paralyse the work of the Yingluck administration.

Ms Yingluck returned to Government House on Friday after attending a meeting of the Defence Council.

Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Mai Yaowapa Wongsawat, Ms Yingluck's elder sister, was waiting to meet Ms Yingluck. After a brief talk, Ms Yaowapa left Government House. No details of their discussion were disclosed.

National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabut said on Friday security agencies might approach the cabinet to have the ISA extended for another month, depending on how many people attend the protests.

If the number of demonstrators at Democracy Monument grows and the rally is prolonged, the ISA might be extended for another month from Nov 30, he said.

The ISA was invoked on Oct 9 when Pefot launched its anti-government push. The cabinet approved an extension of the ISA on Oct 18 until Nov 30.

The ISA covers Dusit, Phra Nakhon and Pomprap Sattruphai districts in Bangkok.

Lt Gen Paradorn said he did not expect tomorrow's rally at Democracy Monument to attract 1 million people, as predicted by Mr Suthep.

He said demonstrators might attempt to lay siege to Government House, but he did not think they would try to break into the compound.

Security forces are more concerned about trouble being caused by a third party, he said

"Security officials will be deployed at around 20 points on high buildings to observe the protest," Lt Gen Paradorn said. "Permission will be sought from the owners of the buildings.

"Members of the media will also be allowed to accompany the officials to watch the protest."

Before moving to Chamai Maruchet Bridge near Government House, the NSPRT on Friday also marched to the Pheu Thai Party headquarters to voice its disapproval at the ruling party's rejection of the Constitution Court's ruling on the charter amendment draft seeking to have a fully elected Senate.

About 2,000 people joined the march including from the State Enterprise Workers' Federation of Thailand.

The NSPRT closed the road in front of the party's headquarters, which had shut its gates at the time, and set up a temporary stage to criticise Pheu Thai members.

The protesters also covered the Pheu Thai Party's sign with a tarpaulin, painted with a picture of iron bars and the words "the prime minister, the parliament president, the Senate Speaker, the Pheu Thai leader and the 312 MPs and senators, who backed the charter amendment draft".

NSPRT adviser Nitithorn Lamluea and Mr Uthai placed black ribbons in front of the party's sign.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said on Friday the group's action was intended to provoke violence. If violence occurs, they would shift the blame on to the government, Mr Prompong said. He urged the red shirts not to come to the rally to avoid confrontation with the anti-government protesters.

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