Junta leader retracts earlier statement, prohibits referendum watch centres

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, has retracted his earlier statement allowing the anti-establishment red shirts’ referendum watch centres, and declared that opening such centres is prohibited.

After police and soldiers intimidated red shirts in several provinces over the referendum watch centres last week, the authorities on Sunday 19 June 2016, at around 10 am, stormed into the broadcasting station of TV 24 or Peace TV in Lat Phrao District, Bangkok, a TV station affiliated with the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), the main red-shirt faction affiliated with Thaksin Shinawatra.

The authorities barred UDD leaders from broadcasting a ceremony to open the UDD referendum watch centres to monitor the upcoming referendum countrywide.

Appearing at the TV station about an hour before the event was due to start, the authorities ordered Jatuporn Prompan, the UDD leader, to cancel the ceremony and escorted him out of the station.

Earlier on Saturday, the Thai junta leader told the media that opening centres to monitor the referendum on the draft constitution is prohibited.

Gen Prayut’s latest statement contradicted his earlier statement in late May that the UDD would be allowed to run referendum watch centres.

“Opening such centres will result in arrests,” said Gen Prayut. “For those wearing ‘Vote No’ shirts, [we] are considering who is wearing them, what’s written on them and if they are illegal.”

The junta leader added that Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, the deputy junta head and Defence Minister, will take care of the matter.

Police officers storm into the broadcasting station of TV 24 or Peace TV in Lat Phrao District, Bangkok, on 19 June 2016, forcing the red shirts to cancel the ceremony to launch the referendum watch centres

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