The People's Democratic Force to Overthrow Thaksinism (Pefot) on Thursday agreed to temporarily cease its rally in front of Government House and return to Lumpini Park following negotiations with deputy national police chief Pol Gen Vorapong Chiewpreecha and Metropolitan Police chief Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit Thoopkrachang.
Anti-government protesters pack up their things outside Government House. They are set to return to Lumpini Park and will consider how to continue their protests after the Chinese prime minister has left Thailand. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Protestors agreed to move away for the duration of the Chinese prime minister's visit, on the condition that no legal action would be taken against Pefot members who came from Lumpini Park, where they had been encamped, to rally in front of Government House on Monday.
The protestors are unhappy with the current government, in particular its attempts to push through charter amendments on the constitution.
A so-called mini-cabinet on Wednesday decided to impose the Internal Security Act (ISA) in three Bangkok districts -- Dusit, Pomprap Sattruphai and Phra Nakhon. A total of 12,000 riot police were subsequently assigned to handle around 250 protesters.
The negotiation was held on Thursday afternoon between Pol Gen Vorapong and Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit on one side and Pefot leaders led by Gen Preecha Iamsuphan on the other.
After a 30-minute talk, Gen Preecha went on the stage to speak to the protesters. He said Pefot core members agreed to move the protesters back to Lumpini Park.
Pefot core members said they would decide after Oct 11 whether to resume the protest after Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang's official visit to Thailand ends, even if the ISA is still in place.
He insisted the return of protesters to Lumpini Park did not signify the end of the protest.
Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit said he would order riot police to return to their bases. Fifteen buses and five trucks would be arranged to move protesters back to Lumpini Park, after which roads earlier closed to traffic would be re-opened.
No legal action would be taken against the protesters due to their cooperation, he said.
Pol Maj Gen Tawat Boonfueng, the prime minister's deputy secretary-general for political affairs, said Pol Gen Vorapong represented Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew, the police chief, in talks to persuade protesters to move away for the Chinese prime minister's visit.
Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnok earlier turned down Pefot's demand for him to attend the talks, saying that it was Pol Gen Adul who was empowered to do so under the ISA.
After learning of the decision that they should return to Lumpini Park, some of the protesters became dissatisfied with their leaders and gathered in small groups to criticise the decision.
A group of Pefot protesters continued to gather at the Nang Lerng intersection. Nitithorn Lamlua, a lawyer for Pefot, announced that the protesters would continue to rally, even without a leader.
They then moved their gathering to Urupong intersection, which is outside the ISA-controlled area.