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Looking ahead to this weekend’s red shirt protest

Bangkok Post: “Govt lowers security net“:

The cabinet is due today to endorse the invoking of the Internal Security Act to cover all of Bangkok ahead of the red shirt rally this weekend.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, in charge of national security, yesterday said the security monitoring committee would forward its recommendation to invoke the law to today’s meeting of the cabinet.

The law, which makes the armed forces the lead agency in maintaining law and order, has been proposed from Thursday until March 23 because of fears the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship’s protest could extend beyond Sunday.

The committee is also proposing that all districts in Nonthaburi and 22 other districts in Ayutthaya, Chachoengsao, Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan and Samut Sakhon also be covered by the act, an army source said.

Those areas were considered major routes or key gathering places for members of the UDD. A final decision on where the act would be put in force apart from Bangkok would rest with the cabinet today, the source said.

Supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra are due to begin flooding into Bangkok on Friday.

The demonstration in the capital is set for Sunday at Sanam Luang and Ratchadamnoen Avenue to ratchet up pressure on the government to quit or dissolve the House to set the stage for a general election.

The UDD says it will be able to gather one million protesters, but the committee chaired by Mr Suthep expected only a six-figure turnout.

And there’s more on the ISA from Reuters: “Thailand to Impose Security Law For Rally“:

The Thai government plans to invoke a tough security law, giving the armed forces broad powers to control a rally in Bangkok by supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a minister said on Monday.

The Internal Security Act (ISA) allows the country’s top security agency, the Internal Security Operations Command, to impose curfews, operate checkpoints and restrict the movement of demonstrators if protests by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) turn violent.

“Based on information we have received, there are many groups of protesters and some may attempt to use violent means,” Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said following a meeting with top security officials, adding that violent acts may include bombings and seizure of government offices.

The ISA, to be formally invoked after a weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday, would be imposed from March 11 to March 23 in Bangkok and surrounding areas, where anti-government protesters plan to rally to press for new elections.

Following the decision to use the ISA, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva cancelled his planned March 13-17 visit to Australia, a spokesman said, without elaborating.

Thaksin’s red-shirted supporters plan to kick off their rallies in the provinces on March 12 before moving to Bangkok on March 14, merging in the historic heart of the capital.

And there’s also this, from AFP: “Thailand to jail migrants at political rallies — minister“:

Thailand will imprison and hand out heavy fines to any migrant workers who attend mass anti-government rallies in Bangkok this weekend, the labour minister said today.

Migrants would be subject to a five-year jail term and fines of up to 100,000 baht ($3358) if found among protesters loyal to fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra who are due to gather in the capital on Sunday.

“Employers will (also) be fined up to 100,000 baht for each migrant worker and (the migrant’s) work permit will be cancelled immediately,” Labour Minister Phaitoon Kaeothong said.

(Emphasis mine.)

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