Police to lead on emergency decree

Police officers will have primary responsibility for enforcing the emergency decree invoked by the caretaker government, National Security Council (NSC) chief Paradorn Pattanatabut said on Tuesday.

The invocation of emergency law from Wednesday will enable policemen to perform their duties more effectively, Lt Gen Paradorn said.

He said the number of security personnel involved in operations to deal with the anti-government Bangkok Shutdown protests will remain the same, with 50 police units and 40 military companies on the job. 

After the emergency decree takes effect, officials will try to negotiate with the leaders of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) to clear road blockades at protest sites, especially in the areas which have inconvenienced large numbers of people.

Lt Gen Paradorn said police will tomorrow ask PDRC leaders to reopen the Department of Consular Affairs on Chaeng Wattana Road because many people had experienced difficulties with picking up their passports and travelling as a result of the closure. 

“The announcement to enforce emergency decree will give more power to the authorities, but it does not mean we will attack or crackdown on the protesters. We will mainly focus on their leaders,” Lt Gen Paradorn said.  

“For media outlets that have presented news stories not based on facts, especially the BlueSky Channel, we will talk to and come to an understanding with them. But we will not close their stations even though we have authority to do so.”

The Democrat-operated BlueSky TV has been used to broadcast the activities of anti-government protests under PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban.

Asked if the military were reluctant to enforce the emergency decree given that they had been assigned to lead such operations in previous years, Lt Gen Paradorn said it was up to the caretaker government to decide whether to ask policemen or soldiers to take the lead in discharging the law. 

He said other civilised countries also pick and choose between using the police or the military to diffuse rallies based on how best to avoid violent confrontation with protesters.

Asked if force would be used against protesters that defy the emergency decree, the NSC chief said officials will try to negotiate and help them understand that they are breaking the law. "The more they resist, the more legal offences they will commit," he said.

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