NATIONAL Police Chief Pol. Gen. Damrongsak Kittipraphat early this morning (July 14) ordered police nationwide to prepare for possible protests with Parliament strongly guarded following prime minister-designate Pita Limjaroenrat failing to get enough votes to take the helm of the government at a joint House/senate meeting yesterday, Naewna newspaper said.
The pro-Pita votes cast by the lawmakers yesterday only accounted for 324 votes, 13 of which came from senators, but it was 51 votes short of a minimum of 375 accounting for more than half the combined total of MPs and senators as required by law.
Tight security was mounted around the Parliament building with approximately 40 containers covered with vinyl sheets placed around the entrance. High-pressure water cannon trucks and paddy wagons were being brought in.
Samsen road was closed from Bang Krabue intersection to Boon Rawd Company ; Pracharat Sai 1 Road closed from Kiak Kai to Bang Po intersection; and Thahan road closed from Kiak Kai to Saphan Daeng intersection.
At these intersections police had placed containers, rolled our barbed wire and metal barriers to prevent Move Forward supporters from getting within 50-metre radius of the Parliament as announced by Metropolitan Police.
Some Move Forward supporters had gathered at the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration complex, or Kiak Kai complex, near the Parliament since last night with more people carrying placards flocking in from morning.
First deputy House speaker Padipat Santipada, who is a Move Forward MP, came to inspect the area and give encouragement.
He said his visit is to arrange space for people rallying because it is the policy of House Speaker Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, who is concurrently Parliament president, that gathering is a fundamental right and freedom of the people
He also pointed out that closing this area is too strict and may increase tension with demonstrators only wanting to show their support for Pita.
Pol.Gen. Damrongsak said he has ordered provincial police chiefs to closely monitor the situation with Metropolitan Police being responsible for the security in Bangkok and the Parliament.
Police were ordered to carry out their duties within the framework of the law and not increase further conflicts and prevent complications. They were also told to announce through loudspeakers the law and guidelines on assembling with the people having the right to gather.
Top: A sign put up near the Parliament saying no gathering allowed within a 50-metre radius of the complex. Photo: Naewna
Inset: National Police Chief Gen. Damrongsak Kittipraphat, right, and police officers guarding the Parliament. Photo: Thai Rath
Front Page: Move Forward leader/prime minister-designate Pita Limjaroenrat at the Parliament yesterday. Photo: Naewna
Also read: Pita not giving up on renewed bid for PM