Police fear post-holiday rise in tension
Renewed rallies expected to spark more rounds of bitter rivalry, especially after reports of rural people being mobilised
The political temperature is expected to rise when people finish celebrating Songkran. Analysts say all political factions - both pro and anti-junta - are set to make demands.
More and bigger political rallies are predicted as it appears Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont's promise to hold an election in mid-December has not been greeted with full confidence.
Police chiefs met yesterday to prepare for political rallies and street demonstrations, as intelligence reports showed provincial people would be mobilised to take to the streets of the capital.
Deputy National Police Commis-sioner Pol General Wichian Potposri called a meeting of officials including deputy Bangkok Governor Wallop Suwandi to discuss the plan to maintain security in Bangkok in light of any street protests.
The junta chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin has called on all political movements to keep calm, saying all problems in the Kingdom would be solved within months.
The country's problems had been caused by somebody addicted to power who had not given up fighting to return to power, he said.
Asked if political moves were being made to block the general from becoming prime minister, Sonthi said he did not want to be premier.
"No, I won't take it. I don't want to get more agony [from politics] … this time is enough. I insist I won't be prime minister," Sonthi told reporters.
Political analysts floated theories yesterday, projecting uncertainty over the election while political groups supporting and opposing the government were expected to continue activities with increased efforts to topple their political rivals.
Thai Rai Thai Party spokesman Kuthep Saikrachang raised doubts as to whether the Council for National Security (CNS) was behind plans for the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to stage more protests. He suspected political groups wanted to create chaos as an excuse to retain power. These groups did not want to see a quick election, he claimed.
"We suspect that some political groups are creating political turmoil so that election cannot be held as the government announced."
He said PAD moves to pressure Surayud to step down supported his suspicion.
"We wonder if the CNS is behind them to create political turmoil so that it can cite this as a reason to stay in power," he said.
Democrat Party deputy leader Jurin Laksanavisit, meanwhile, felt there was only a 50 per cent chance that the election would be held at the end of the year. He gave four reasons.
First, if the Constitution Court ruled to dissolve various political parties, the politicians belonging to them could instigate opposition to the government.
Second, as the Assets Examination Committee wraps up investigations incriminating more politicians for corruption, the politicians could be expected to counter-attack or fight in some way.
Third, if the new constitution draft included too many clauses which were opposed by political parties and the public, it was likely the draft would not pass the referendum. So, it was inevitable that the junta would have to select an old constitution to use. "If the one they pick is opposed by the public, this could lead to more political problems," Jurin said.
The final reason, he said, was the government's failure to solve problems such as rising violence in the South and the sagging economy, which may cause more anti-government sentiment and lead to turmoil if the election could not be held.
CNS office director General Somjet Boonthanom voiced similar concerns. He said the country faced political uncertainty.
"I do not mean to cause panic or erode business confidence in the country. But investors have to understand the circumstances. If there is rising political turmoil, a general election cannot be held," he said.