Army on alert for violence in by-election

First army chief Kanit Sapitak has placed his troops on high alert after intelligence reports suggested violence could erupt in the lead-up to the by-election in Bangkok’s Constituency 6 on July 25.

Military intelligence predicts possible violence for the July 25 by-election, but party secretary-general Sunee Luangwijit only wants to distribute leaflets for Puea Thai candidate Korkaew Pikulthong.

Lt Gen Kanit said yesterday the army has been ordered to secure places of significance and protect important people.

“The by-election is a political activity. I have been informed of reports that unrest could occur because the poll holds political significance,” he said.

Besides significant places in Constituency 6, which covers Bung Kum, Kannayao, Nong Chok and Klong Sam Wa, he said the army has been ordered to protect its own units and arsenals as well as government offices and public utilities.

“The Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation has stressed there must be no [untoward] incidents and our best efforts will be made to prevent any,” the commander said.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is reported to have been told of an intelligence report detailing a possible assassination attempt against him and other government figures.

Acting national police chief Pateep Tanprasert said yesterday other likely targets apart from Mr Abhisit are Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, judges trying the Democrat dissolution case and members of the Election Commission.

He said security was being beefed up for VIPs and government offices and infrastructure.

Wicharn Meenchainant, who heads the Puea Thai Party’s campaign for the by-election, said party candidate Korkaew Pikulthong is unlikely to be allowed to leave his cell to campaign. All key party figures, MPs, Bangkok councillors and district councillors will take to the campaign trail to seek votes on his behalf. The party’s campaign starts today.

Mr Wicharn said Puea Thai MPs Chalerm Yubamrung and Jatuporn Prompan will be key speakers during the campaign.

Puea Thai members will concentrate on convincing voters of the government’s misrule and corruption.

Mr Wicharn said the ruling Democrat Party has the edge over his party because the emergency decree remains in effect and Mr Korkaew cannot campaign for votes himself.

The Puea Thai candidate is detained with other red shirt protest leaders at the Bangkok Remand Prison on charges of terrorism related to the May riots and clashes between red shirt protesters and authorities in Bangkok and other provinces.

Mr Wicharn said a website will be set up to assist in the campaign.

The Constituency 6 seat was left vacant by the death on June 11 of Democrat MP Thiwa Ngernyuang.

Meanwhile, an army source said the Quartermaster’s Department fuel depot in Nonthaburi which came under rocket attack on Sunday has 11 fuel tanks but only one contains supplies for the army’s operations. The rocket hit an empty tank.

News item courtesy of www.bangkokpost.com

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