BANGKOK — The Redshirts have issued yet another threat to stage a massive uprising if the Senate accepts anti-government protesters' demand for an appointed Prime Minister.
Speaking to a crowd of pro-government supporters on the third day of their rally at Aksa Avenue in western Bangkok, Redshirt leader Jatupon Prompan criticised Senate Speaker Surachai Liangboonlertchai’s decision to meet in person with the leader of anti-government movement inside the House of Parliament yesterday.
Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the People's Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State (PCAD), was given a grand welcome at the Parliament – despite the arrest warrants on Mr. Suthep – and was granted a private audience with Mr. Surachai for nearly an hour. Journalists were not allowed to observe their discussion.
Mr. Suthep has been urging the Senate to appoint a new Prime Minister with a royal endorsement from His Majesty the King. Mr. Suthep claims this move is legal under Article 7 of the Thai Constitution.
The government has dismissed the proposal as unconstitutional and insisted that the caretaker PM, Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisarn, will stay on until the next election on July 20.
A number of appointed Senators have voiced their support for Mr. Suthep’s plan, leading pro-government supporters to suspect that the Senate may soon vote to appoint an unelected PM.
In his speech today, Mr. Jatupon said Senators risk becoming the servants of Mr. Suthep. The Redshirt leader lambasted Mr. Surachai for "conspiring" with Mr. Suthep in a bid to oust the elected government.
"Mr. Surachai has lost his dignity. He is no gentleman. He should know that Thais must live under the laws," Mr. Jatupon said.
Mr. Jatupon also challenged Mr. Surachai to reveal his true colours by granting Mr. Suthep's wish for the Senate to vote on an appointed PM.
"We UDD [the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship] like challenges. If Mr. Surachai is confident that Mr. Suthep can protect him, then he should just go for a royally-appointed PM under Article 7."
While Mr. Jatupon stressed that the Redshirts will hold their position on Aksa Avenue, he confirmed that they will immediately "escalate" their rally and possibly march to central Bangkok if the Senate invokes Article 7.
"So will the Senate use Article 7? Let us know soon. When Mr. Suthep is about to move, the UDD will move as well," Mr. Jatupon said to a loud cheer by the Redshirts.
Mr. Jatupon also questioned why Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army, has not ordered the troops to vacate the Government House even though Mr. Suthep has announced his plan to seize the compound as his new "office."
"Why is Gen. Prayuth letting his subordinates accommodate the rebels?” Mr. Jatupon asked. “The military lets Mr. Suthep enter and use the area inside the Government House, they claim that they didn't want any clash. If one day Mr. Suthep is so arrogant that he wants to use the headquarters of the Royal Thai Army as his office, does it mean he can do so?"
Although Mr. Surachai has not openly stated his views on invoking Article 7, pro-government protesters suspect that he is highly sympathetic to the idea because of his backing from the appointed Senators – a pro-establishment faction in the Senate considered to be hostile to the current government.
Mr. Suthep has announced that he will give the Senate until the end of this week to decide on the invocation of Article 7. When the ultimatum expires, Mr. Suthep has said he will appoint himself as "Sovereign Body" and directly seek a royal intervention.
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