Chiang Mai reds offer to host govt

The caretaker government could use Chiang Mai as its temporary base if People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters continue to block its work in Bangkok, red-shirt leaders in the province said on Wednesday.

Krissanapong Prombuengram, core leader of Rak Chiang Mai (Love Chiang Mai) 51 and chairman of the Lanna Red-Shirt People, said government supporters in the North will closely monitor the situation in Bangkok.

If the military attempts to seize power from the elected government of caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, red shirts in the Lanna region would immediately move against any military-appointed administration, he said.

Red shirts would soon rally in support of the government in Chiang Mai to counter anti-government protests in the capital by the PDRC, he added.

If the caretaker government was unable to perform its duties due to obstructions by PDRC protesters and some groups of rice farmers, Ms Yingluck and her cabinet could continue running the country from Chiang Mai, Mr Krissanapong said.

Chiang Mai also has a government complex, international exhibition centre and other facilities ready to serve the needs of cabinet meetings and other functions of the government, he said.

Local red-shirts were also ready to coordinate with police to ensure the safety of all cabinet ministers, he said, insisting that no anti-government group would be able to disrupt the work of the government in Chiang Mai.

Petcharawat Wattanapongsiri, an adviser to the social development and human security minister and a Lanna red shirt co-leader, agreed that the caretaker government could use Chiang Mai as its command centre.

Red shirts in the area were capable of providing 5,000-6,000 security guards daily to ensure protection for all cabinet members, he said.

Mr Petcharawat said anti-government groups have the constitutional right to protest, but their activities must be in line with the law.

Apichart Inson, a co-leader of the Chiang Mai and Lamphun Independent Red Shirt group, said his members were ready to support the democratic government.

If any anti-government protest takes place in Chiang Mai and creates hardship for local people, the red shirts would immediately move in to dismantle the rally stage and stop the unlawful action, Mr Apichart said.

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