BANGKOK — Rival protest groups narrowly avoided a collision in northern Bangkok today when police stopped pro-government activists from storming a campsite maintained by an anti-government protest group.
The pro-government activists were led by the People's Radio for Democracy (PRD), a local Redshirt group based in Nonthaburi province.
More than 100 PRD supporters gathered in Laksi district this morning and marched toward Chaeng Wattana Road with the intention of encountering anti-government leader Buddhist Issara.
"We want to ask them to return [Chaeng Wattana Road] to the public, and to return the happiness to the people," PRD leader Sornsak Malaithong said, declaring his plan to attempt to negotiate with Buddha Issara and convince the monk to accept the PRD's demands.
Buddha Issara has been in charge of the anti-government rally site on Chaeng Wattana, which has been sealed off from the public since the protests began in January.
However, a company of riot police quickly blocked the road leading to the Laksi Intersection and prevented the Redshirts from approaching the anti-government campsite, leading Mr. Sornsak to get off of his loudspeaker vehicle and negotiate with a high-ranking police officer.
The officer insisted that he would not let the PRD protesters beyond the Laksi Intersection, citing fears that violent clashes could erupt between the two groups of protesters. A clash between Redshirts and anti-government demonstrators at Laksi Intersection on 1 February escalated into a gun battle that left one elderly man paralysed.
After 10 minutes of negotiation, police went to Buddha Issara on behalf of the PRD to communicate the group’s demands. According to police, the monk promised to vacate the road by 18 May.
But Mr. Sornsak said he is not satisfied by Buddha Issara's offer. He vowed to return to Laksi Intersection and attempt another direct "negotiation" with Buddha Issara on 11 May.
PRD activists eventually dispersed without any incidents.
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