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Prayut targets democracy activists

PM calls protests 'backwards'

After seeing growing anti-government protests like this one near Democracy Monument last Saturday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has promised a crackdown on 'backwards' political demonstrations.

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Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday vowed to get tough on political agitators, saying all people must be subject to the law.

He was referring to anti-coup activists stepping up campaigns against the regime. His comments came after around 500 people gathered near the Democracy Monument on Saturday to pressure the premier into holding a general election this year.

"I do not know what they want," said Gen Prayut. "They're trying to take the country backwards ... and the government cannot condone it."

He said he was concerned about university students who took part in the recent protest, as they could face prosecution.

"I do not make threats. Laws are laws. They must be enforced equally," Gen Prayut said after a National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) meeting.

He claimed that the government and the NCPO have no intention of gagging or hurting anyone and argued that the administration has already been lenient by giving warnings and granting bail. But the same groups still make trouble.

Referring to activists who vowed to continue protesting for an election, Gen Prayut said the media should tell them they are breaking the law and causing trouble for motorists.

"As you [the protesters] say your human rights and liberties have been violated, I would ask whether other people, who do not take part in rallies, do not have rights and liberties? You should think about others," Gen Prayut said.

Referring to reports that politicians are travelling to meet former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra overseas, Gen Prayut said he has not banned anyone from doing so, but they must not be involved in any plots aimed at overthrowing the government.

Referring to government efforts to seek their extradition, Gen Prayut said this depends on the country they are in.

"We cannot apprehend them overseas. This is the matter of boosting understanding with [other countries], and I have tried to do all I can," he said.

Meanwhile, the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) yesterday said it disagreed with four points in the bill passed by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) on the election of MPs.

They concern staging concerts during poll campaigns, extending the voting time to 7am-5pm from 8am-4pm, allowing people to help disabled voters cast their votes as well as depriving people of their right to serve in certain positions, including political posts, if they fail to cast a vote.

Things could be settled via talks among a joint panel consisting of the NLA, CDC and the Election Commission, said CDC spokesman Udom Rathamarit.

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