(1 April) The Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army has denied reports that the military might impose martial laws to contain rival mass protests on 5 April.
Leaders of both anti-government and pro-government movements have called for mass demonstrations this Saturday as show of strength, raising fears that violent clashes might break out between the rival protesters, while a number of media reports indicate that the army may resort to martial laws to quell the unrest.
Clashes between the two rival groups in early December last year left 1 anti-government protester and 3 pro-government demonstrators dead.
But Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha said there is no plan for martial laws.
"The violence that many people are afraid of has not happened yet," Gen. Prayuth said "There is no need to speculate".
He also insisted that over 170 military checkpoints deployed around Bangkok's downtown area are necessary measures for providing public security, dismissing concerns from pro-government critics that the military has deployed the troops to intimidate the government.
Lt.Gen. Paradorn Pattanatabutr, head of the National Security Council, echoed Gen. Prayuth's sentiment, expressing his belief that no clash or violence would take place on 5 April.
He explained that it is unlikely that the two rival protest groups would encroach their opponent's territory. "I've been informed that the UDD will hold their rallies outside Bangkok, while the PCAD will mobilise their supporters at Lumpini Park, which is an area where it is easy to maintain security," Lt.Gen. Paradorn said.
The NSC director insisted that the government can contain the protests with the existing Internal Security Act, and a declaration of martial laws would be unnecessary.
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