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Thailand’s military, police on standby for protests if Pita’s PM bid blocked

PHOTO: Facebook/พรรคก้าวไกล - Move Forward Party

Thailand’s military and police are preparing for mass protests if Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat is prevented from becoming prime minister.

The selection of Thailand’s next PM is due to take place mid-July and Nation Thailand reports that there are fears supporters of the Move Forward Party and its coalition partner Pheu Thai, could hold protests, potentially violent protests, if Pita is foiled in his attempt. The Move Forward party won the highest number of seats in the new parliament and has cobbled together an 8-party coalition which would give it a massive majority in the new parliament.

The 8-party coalition of 313 MPs needs the support of 63 senators or MPs in order for Pita to be elected as PM. However, a number of senators say they won’t vote for him, saying the Move Forward Party plans to reform section 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, more commonly known as the lèse-majesté law. The controversial law prohibits any criticism of Thailand’s monarchy.

According to the Nation Thailand report, military sources say they believe Pita supporters may rally ahead of the PM vote, in a bid to put pressure on senators. It’s not known if rallies will take place on the day of the vote itself, but Parliament will be heavily guarded, with additional forces on standby.

The same sources say all security cameras in the area are being checked to ensure they’re in working order, in the event that footage is required to prosecute protesters who break the law. It’s understood the authorities are closely monitoring social media posts to gauge the mood of Pita supporters, in order to pre-empt what could happen if his PM bid fails.

Thailand’s army has put all soldiers in nearby barracks on standby, while the Royal Thai Navy is prepared to send in reinforcements along the Chao Phraya River. All overseas trips by military and police leaders have also been cancelled ahead of the selection of Thailand’s next PM.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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