UDD leaders call for bigger protests

UDD leaders call for bigger protests

United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) leaders have called on red-shirt supporters to prepare themselves for bigger gatherings as rival groups look to measure their political clout through strength of numbers.

A man collects water bottles left at the weekend rally site of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) on Utthayan Road in Bangkok’s Thawi Watthana district after the gathering wrapped up yesterday morning. Chanat Katanyu

The call comes after People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leader Suthep Thaugsuban accepted a challenge from UDD chairman Jatuporn Prompan to show the world which rival group could muster the most supporters.

Mr Jatuporn Prompan gave red-shirt supporters a last rallying cry at the UDD gathering on Utthayan Road in Bangkok’s Thawi Watthana district before it broke up yesterday after a three-day protest.

He said the UDD will draw up an action plan against the PDRC which he branded a tool of the ammart network, or old elite.

"I'm ready to fight Mr Suthep [to see who can stage the biggest rally]. We will clearly see who will draw the largest number of supporters soon. The venue of the next UDD rally will be kept secret until the time comes," he said.

"This week's gathering was just a rehearsal. We will address all problems and mistakes and pledge to all of you that we will win,” he said.

UDD secretary-general, Nattawut Saikuar, said the gathering that closed yesterday was successful, judging from the turnout, adding there was no need to make comparisons with PDRC rally numbers since the red shirts stood to uphold democracy.

He also called on red shirts to prepare for a mass rally in the near future, saying he hoped it would open a new chapter in Thai history.

He also blasted PDRC attempts to sabotage elections, saying Mr Suthep feared losing at the ballot box and that state agencies should take legal action against him for looking to assume the power to decide on a new prime minister if upcoming legal decisions go against caretaker premier Yingluck Shinawatra.

Mr Suthep earlier announced that if the anti-government movement gained sovereign status he would seek royal endorsement for a new prime minister.

Red-shirt supporters went back to their homes yesterday after their three-day gathering ended. BMA workers immediately set about cleaning up the 3.8-kilometre-long rally site, removing 108 tonnes of garbage.

Meanwhile PDRC co-leader Thaworn Senneam played down chances of confrontations as a result of future red-shirt rallies, saying that it is the duty of police and soldiers to prevent any clashes.

"If not, people will have to [do anything to] take care of themselves," he said.

He insisted that PDRC rallies were not geared toward instigating a coup.

Addressing Mr Suthep's comments on a possible interim prime minister and administrative power if the charter court rules against the caretaker government, Mr Thaworn said it was not a move to seize power, but a bid to find a way out of the political impasse.

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