Thai pro-govt camp warns army against double standards

Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks during a meeting with high ranking officials at The Army Club after the army declared martial law nationwide to restore order, in Bangkok May 20, 2014.

THAILAND - Key players in Thailand's political scene have apparently decided not to challenge the newly proclaimed martial law - at least for now.

Those in the pro-government camp, however, have warned the military against such things as double standards, tearing down the Constitution and breaching democratic principles.

Those in the anti-government camp, meanwhile, have expressed hope the martial law will prevent violence from recurring. Since November, the political turmoil has caused more than 20 deaths and injured more than 700.

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a hugely controversial figure at the heart of the Kingdom's bitter political divide, said via Twitter yesterday that the imposition of martial law must not "destroy" democracy.

"The declaration of martial law is expected ... however, I hope no party will violate human rights and further destroy democracy," he said.

Thaksin was ousted as prime minister in a bloodless coup in 2006, and his younger sister Yingluck was disqualified as prime minister this month.

Acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan said the martial law should be implemented through a peaceful and non-discriminatory approach.

"The Army should proceed in line with the Constitution," he said.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha declared martial law early yesterday.

Former Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hema said that for as long as Prayuth remained neutral, bloodshed would not erupt.

"If you help the PDRC, it will mean you're taking a side," he said.

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), which supports the government, said it would continue to hold red-shirt rallies on Utthayan (Aksa) Road and would fight to the end if someone tried to stage a coup or overthrow the democratic system in the country.

"We have a duty to defend democracy," UDD chairman Jatuporn Promphan said.

Urging Prayuth to stick to democratic principles in restoring peace in the country, Jatuporn recommended that the general ensure that all sides agreed to either an election or a public referendum on whether the general election should be held.

The People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) has staged a months-long protest against the government and called for reform before any election.

As required under the martial law, the PDRC yesterday agreed to vacate the Santi Maitri Building in Government House and cancel its planned marches.

PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban, however, urged his supporters to continue rallying because they would need to shape the direction of Thailand's future.

Suthep also asked the Senate to name a new prime minister quickly - something the UDD has strongly opposed.

Satit Wongnongtaey, a PDRC co-leader, believed the martial law would benefit his group in that no violence would rock its rally sites again. Several PDRC demonstrators were killed and injured during the past months.

Phra Buddha Issara, another PDRC leader, has also interpreted the martial law as a good sign.

"At least it shows soldiers have the courage to help the country out of its crisis," he said.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva announced on his Facebook page that his party would convene a meeting today to discuss the current situation.

According to Abhisit, the use of martial law may be able to restore order temporarily, but sustained stability requires a political solution. Security officials cannot achieve this on their own. It is the duty and responsibility of all stakeholders to continue their efforts to reach such a solution.