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BANGKOK, July 31 – A staunch Red Shirt leader today called on pro-government activists to refrain from joining opponents’ political rally next week as the amnesty bill is debated in Parliament amid the country’s disgruntled sentiment.

Jatuporn Prompan, a key leader of the government-friendly United Front for Democracy (UDD), told a meeting of the ruling Pheu Thai Party’s strategic committee that he would meet with top UDD members nationwide at a Bangkok vocational school Saturday to brief them on the latest
situation and instruct them to stay away from political rallies to avoid confrontation.

Members of the Pheu Thai’s strategic committee urgently met this morning to discuss the latest political situation and preparations for parliamentary debates as the new regular session starts tomorrow.

The amnesty bill, highly opposed and criticised from various civil society groups, is slated for Lower House debate in its first reading next Wednesday.

“It’s the government’s duty to maintain public order while Red Shirt activists must strictly adhere to peaceful principles. The Red Shirt movement must be coherent,” Mr Jatuporn said.

He said Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban should make it clear about his role given his statement urging protesters to rally against the government.

In making such an announcement, Mr Suthep must be on the front line of the rally and must take responsibility for any untoward incident, he said.

Meanwhile, Yellow Shirt leaders, adversaries of the Red Shirt group, said they would not join any movement against the government following a Criminal Court order prohibiting them from protesting or instigating unrest in the country.

The four leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD)–Chamlong Srimuang, Pipop Thongchai, Somkiat Pongpaiboon and Parnthep Puapongpan–said they opposed any legislation aimed at whitewashing ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra but decided not
to get involved in any political activity for the time being.

“If the amnesty bill is debated for the second and third readings, we will reconsider our stand,” said Maj Gen Chamlong.

The Sunday rally against the amnesty bill will be organised by an activist group which calls itself the People’s Army against the Thaksin Regime. (MCOT online news)

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