Army Commander-in-Chief General Narongphan Chitkaewtae has dismissed the chance of a military coup in Thailand as a “minus” possibility, saying that he believes the country will weather the current political storm and that political conflict must be solved using political means.
He added, however, that the military will have to support the police in the performance of their duty, to maintain peace and order, in the wake of the anti-establishment protest yesterday, to prevent any provocation of violence.
Citing yesterday’s rally near the Grand Palace, during which smoke flares were hurled by people among the protesting crowd, the army chief asked what would have happened if the flares had been thrown into the palace or the City Pillar Shrine, causing damage.
“The place is like the home of every one of us, which we love, so we must try to control the elements who are bent on provoking violence, otherwise our country will go backward,” said General Narongphan.
He stressed that several previous protests had been illegal, but the police were very accommodating, by only taking legal action against those who clearly broke the law.
Meanwhile, police are in the process of collecting evidence to take legal action against key members of yesterday’s protest.
Four mail boxes, which were placed in front of the Supreme Court for protesters to post their messages to the palace, plus the letters inside the boxes, have been seized by the police for examination.
Regarding the smoke flares, which were thrown by some protesters, Pol Maj-Gen Piya Tawichai, deputy commissioner of Metropolitan Police Bureau said the police have been trying to determine whether they are classified as non-lethal explosives.
One police officer suffered a cut on his forehead, which needed three stiches, after he was hit by a glass, allegedly thrown by one of the protesters yesterday.
In Pattaya, meanwhile, a Russian tourist was injured when a protest leader, identified as Narathiwat Khamma, allegedly head-butted the victim during a heated argument.
Narathiwat said that the tourist asked why the protesters were rallying in Pattaya, noting that it would hurt the economy of the resort town. The pair then engaged in a heated argument and he, in a fit of anger, allegedly struck the tourist on the forehead.
Narathiwat was summoned to the Pattaya police station right after the incident, where he was charged with assault and freed on 10,000 baht police bail.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)