NSC: Farmers' Feb 10 rally symbolic

The planned rally by farmers from western provinces at the Office of the Defence Permanent Secretary on Monday will only be symbolic, National Security Council (NSC) chief Paradorn Pattanatabut said on Sunday.

Lt Gen Paradorn said the farmers would return to rally at the Commerce Ministry after a brief symbolic gathering in front of the Office of the Defence Permanent Secretary on Chaeng Wattana road, a temporary office of the cabinet, to pressure the government into paying them for their pledged rice.

The farmers would not set up a permanent rally site there because the space was limited, he said.

Asked whether he thought the farmers would later join the People's Democratic Reform Committee's (PDRC) protest to demand the resignation of caretaker prime minister and her government, the NSC chief admitted many people were concerned this would happen since Luang Pu Buddha Issara or Suvit Thongprasert had persuaded the farmers to join the anti-government protesters. Therefore, some farmers might do as feared, he added.

"I think the farmers who have arrived in Bangkok only want to demand money for the pledged rice. They are not politically motivated and hold a different objective from the PDRC protesters. However, some of them may agree to join the PDRC on being persuaded by its leaders. This, if it happens, could lead to violence, which frequently occurs at the Chaeng Wattana rally site," Lt Gen Paradorn said.

Asked whether caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra or any member of the cabinet would meet the farmers, the NSC chief said if Ms Yingluck was not at the office, a concerned cabinet minister such as Deputy Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisarn or PM's Office Minister Varathep Rattanakorn would act on her behalf.

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