Troops allowed to don civilian clothes

Military officers at the Royal Thai Army Headquarters were on Monday told they can wear civilian clothes to work from Jan 14 in a move that will protect them from becoming targets amid escalating street protests.

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The order was issued by army commander in chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and was made via the army headquarters’ internal radio communication system, an army source close to the general said. 

The source said Gen Prayuth also gave the green light for officers to swap shifts amongst themselves so that they can take turns to work in the office and from home for the rest of this week. 

Gen Prayuth and other high-level army officers will continue to work from a temporary headquarters set up at the Royal Guard's 1st Infantry Regiment on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, the source added.  

The army commander's announcement came after anti-government demonstrators blocked Wisut Kasat instersection behind army HQ early Monday afternoon, before carrying on to block traffic on Rama 8 Bridge. The protest situation prompted the army to position two more companies of troops and additional barbed wire barriers at its facility. 

After the order was issued, army spokesman Winthai Suwari clarified that officials were not forbidding soldiers from wearing uniform to work. 

He said the order was intended to help officers who live far away and need more time to commute to work because of traffic problems resulting from the protest. 

Officers are permitted to don casual clothing if necessary but most would still wear uniform, he said.

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