UDD Leader: Redshirts Do Not Seek Secession

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra visits her supporters in Chiang Rai, one of major strongholds of the Redshirts, 26 February 2014

(26 February) Core member of the Redshirts leadership has denied allegations that pro-Redshirts provinces are gearing up to secede from Thailand.

"We have no armed forces. We don′t want to secede or break the country apart in anyway," said Mr. Weng Tojirakarn, co-founder of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD).

He added, "The UDD wants to fight politically, not militarily".

Mr. Weng also denied reports that the government is planning to relocate its seat of powers to the northern city of Chiang Mai. "We support the system of democratic regime with the King as Head of State," Mr. Weng stressed.

Frustrated by what they view as a conspiracy by the Bangkok elite and the establishments to support the ongoing anti-government protests, many Redshirts openly advocate the idea of separating Thailand into two nations along the lines of political affiliation. 

Northern and northeastern regions of Thailand, along with some provinces and pockets of districts in the central region, are famously dominated by supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the influential brother of the current PM, Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra.

Most of Bangkok and the southern regions are widely seen as solid base of campaigns against Ms. Yingluck and her political clan.

The speculation that the ongoing conflicts may lead an all-out civil war has been extensively reported in a number of foreign media agencies, while the leader of the anti-government protests denounced the alleged attempts by the Redshirts to secede from Thailand.

Mr. Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary-general of the People′s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State (PCAD), said on Tuesday that he would not let the Redshirts "trample" rule of laws and tear asunder the sovereign nation of Thailand.

He also accused Minister of Interior Affairs Jarupong Ruengsuwan of hinting at the Redshirts′ willingness to fight a separatist campaign; Mr. Jarupong had previously announced at a UDD rally that Thailand has more than "10 million guns" which could be used by the Thais to defend themselves from tyranny. 

However, Mr. Weng, the UDD leader, explained that Mr. Jarupong was merely reciting a statistic as an official who oversees registration of firearms in Thailand. 

"He was merely warning the people not to use violence. He was also warning [the military] not to launch a coup," Mr. Weng said, "It was not a threat to any side". 

The UDD activist also charged that it is in fact Mr. Suthep′s protests that are driving Thailand toward a civil war. "The government wants democracy, but Mr. Suthep wants to see violence and conflicts".

Furthermore, the Election Commission (EC) would be faulted should the civil indeed break out, Mr. Weng said, as the EC has repeatedly displayed its reluctance to conclude the general election. 

Thailand has lacked a functioning government since Ms. Yingluck dissolved the House in December 2013, and the PCAD has derailed the general election previously held on 2 February.

The EC has not yet announced the date for any by-election.