Crunch time: Day one
- Published: 2/12/2013 at 08:57 AM
- Online news:
Rally leader Suthep Thuagsuban has given the PM two days to leave office, but it is not clear the protesters have the numbers to throw her government out. We'll be watching throughout the day.
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The crowd at the Government Complex last night, one of the main anti-government rally sites. A big question now is how long the rally leaders can keep large numbers of protesters going. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL
For today's (December 3) coverage, click here:http://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-from-news/382687/crunch-time-day-one
Note: "Crunch time" refers to an extremely important moment or period of time when you must make a decision or take action
Protests can't last forever and with a new week beginning and His Majesty's birthday celebrations about to start, rally leaders are rushing to conclude what they say is a transfer of power to the people in defence of the constitution. A big question is whether the anti-government protesters can keep up the pressure or will the government's restraint begin to pay off. Journalists covering the two most fiercely contested battlegrounds, Government House and the Metropolitan Police Bureau, say it will be very difficult for protesters to take them against a determined resistance from security forces.
Last night, People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leader Suthep Thuagsuban gave the prime minister and her government 48 hours to leave office. Today is day one and we'll be watching the events as they unfold. First a brief review of some of the latest events. You can see our coverage of the past few days here:
Throughout much of the day yesterday, a relatively small area near Government House and the Bangkok Metropolitan police bureau resembled a war zone. THITI WANNAMONTHA
For the most part, however, yesterday's marches, like this one to the Commerce Ministry, were orderly and non-violent. TAWATCHAI KHEMGUMNERD
This is usually not recommended for tear gas protection. PATIPAT JANTHONG
Mr Suthep announces plans for tomorrow and for the long term at the Government Complex in Chaengwattan a few minutes ago. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL
First of all, as expected, rally leader Suthep Thuagsuban is in trouble with the law. Our online reporters report that The Criminal Court on Monday has issued an arrest warrant for anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban on charges of insurrection, Pol Maj Gen Chayut Thanathaweerat, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, said.
The former Democrat Party MP for Surat Thani is accused of being part of an assembly of more than 10 people intent on disrupting the peace and of trespassing on state buildings, after leading demonstrators to occupy different government offices.
The statute of limitation is 20 years. The charge is punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment under Section 113 of the Criminal Code.
Mr Suthep has previously said that he and other leaders will not flee and are willing to fight the charges in court.
Latest: Mr Suthep just finished making a long statement to the crowd at the Government Complex. He vowed to continue the fight and challenged police to arrest him. He said a final assault on the Metropolitan Police Bureau would begin at 7am. He said victory would lead to a complete reform of the police department, rewarding the many good police and ridding the department of the bad ones -- who are really bad, he said.
Here is a short summary of the clashes which have largely stopped for the night.
Another site of clashes this afternoon was at the Kan Ruan intersection. Here is the aftermath. PANUMAS SANGUANWONG
The worst of the skirmishes took place at Phon 1, Panich Chayakarn and Karn Ruen intersections, and Orathai and Chamai Maruchet bridges.
One faction of protesters tried to seize the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) near Phon 1, while others attempted to storm Government House and parliament.
Police fired tear gas, sprayed water cannon and, for the first time, used rubber bullets to deter the protesters. At least one real bullet was found at a rally site. A young male protester, believed to be about 25, was reportedly shot in the leg and taken to Ramathibodi Hospital.
Protesters accused police of firing real bullets to break up the protests.
But Pol Maj Gen Piya Uthayo, spokesman for the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (Capo), denied that anything other than tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon were used.
Police are investigating the case of the protester injured by the live bullet, the spokesman added.
Clashes between police and demonstrators continued throughout the afternoon, the heaviest near the Mettropolitan Police Bureau at Yaek Pol 1. Photographer Thiti Wannamontha was there and his photos give you a good idea of just how intense the tear gas and water cannon barrage was.
Photo by Thiti Wannamonta.
Photo by Thiti Wannamonta.
Photo by Thiti Wannamonta.
Photo by Thiti Wannamonta.
Here is an aerial view of the same location from our remote helicopter pilot Sithikorn Wongwudthianun.
Prime Minister Yinluck Shinawatra is holding a press conference. She is taking questions and repeating that she is open to all constitutional options to end the conflict, options like a dissolution of parliament or resignation. The problem is that Mr Suthep is demanding an option that appears to have no constitutional basis. What is "return power to the people?", she asks.
The young protesters from the Network of Students and People for Reform were back in action early this morning, renewing their assault on Government House and Metropolitan Police headquarters. There, they, like yesterday, there were met with tear gas and high pressure water hoses. Police also threatened them with arrest.
"Please don't remove concrete barriers and barbed wire, or else we'll take action under the appropriate procedure," police shouted through a loudspeaker. "The officers will arrest those who remove them."
The protesters appear to be no closer to their goal than yesterday although they are coping better with the tear gas. One reason is that they are well supplied with large porous bags that help prevent the tear gas fumes from spreading. They also have a sprinkler system outside the MPB headquarters.
Today, protesters are well supplied with large bags to suck the tear gas fumes. APICHART JINAKUL
Another group is preparing to leave Ratchadamnoen headed for national police headquarters where Prime Minister Yingluck was seen earlier this morning.
Suthep gives PM ultimatum before military leaders
Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban on Sunday night gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra an ultimatum of two days to return power to people.
Mr Suthep told a press conference before protesters at Government House that the prime minister was given the two-day ultimatum in a meeting that took place at about 8.30pm.
People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leader Suthep Thuagsuban describes his meeting with the prime minister to the Government. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL
The meeting was held before all armed forces leaders including Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, he said.
Mr Suthep said the meeting at an undisclosed location was not to negotiate with Ms Yingluck.
The talks were to spell out the stance of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) which is aimed at political reform by the People's Council.
On twitter, The Phue Thai party said Ms Yingluck would respond last night, but a spokesman for the prime minister later said that was not the case.
The meeting has, at least temporarily, ended speculation that the prime minister had left the country.
Wim Rungwatthananachinda, the prime minister's aide, said on Sunday that Ms Yingluck had followed the situation at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau on Sunday morning by holding a video conference call to security officials of the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order at the Royal Thai Police head office. She then left the bureau on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road to go to a safe place which Mr Wim refused to disclose.
This remarkable birds-eye view of one of yesterday's clashes, illustrates just how difficult the protester's task is in entering restricted areas.
About the author
- Writer: Terry Fredrickson
Position: Education Marketing and Support Manager