Police remove southern road blockade, to arrest more protesters

Southern police this morning removed the only blockade on Phetkasem Highway at Cha-aut district of Nakhon Si Thammarat without any resistance by protesting rubber farmers. They also planned to arrest more protesters who were behind the ongoing protest despite the latest government’s subsidy offer.

Deputy Prime Minister Pol Gen Pracha Promnok said this morning that the police moved in to remove the blockade without any resistance.

“Now the traffic returns normal. I’m glad to hear things back to normal so that our economy can move forward.” Pracha said.

 

He also stood firm to the latest subsidy offer reached with farmers without any change.

Reports from the south said that police moved into Kuan Nonghong intersection on the Asia Highway after seeing the number of protesters still blocking the highway with container truck dropped to less than a hundred.

The removal started at about 7.00 a.m. today with a hundred men-strong anti riot police under the eyes of protesters whose number dropped to less than 100 people.

The police said however that they still need to deploy anti-riot police at the scene for fear that rubber farmers will return again. But by press time traffic on the highway from Nakhon Si Thammarat to other southern provinces and Bangkok was back to normal.

National Police Office spokesman Pol Maj-Gen Piya Uthai-yo said earlier that protest leaders behind the blockade on the highway at Kuan Nonghong would face arrest.

Earlier the rubber and oil palm farmers gathering at this intersection issued demands for 100 baht/kilo of raw sheet rubber and price of palm nuts at 6 baht/kilo.  They also demanded no prosecution of their protest leaders and released all those who were arrested. They threatened to upgrade their protest to ousting the Yingluck government if their demands are still ignored.

In Bangkok, both the prime minister’s secretary-general and  the ruling Pheu Thai party spokesman  pointed their fingers to the opposition party in inciting protesters to continue the protest.

Pheu Thai party spokesman Prompong Nopparit accused the Democrat party of behind the ongoing protest at Kuan Nonghong intersection in Cha-uat saying the protest site was close to the house of one of its MPs  (Chamni Sakdiset).

The spokesman also said that the ongoing protest was also masterminded by some rubber traders who have stockpiled over  200,000 tons of rubber and ready to sell them out once the government yielded to the protesters’ demand for higher guaranteed price and that they would earn over a hundred million baht  from the price difference..

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra made clear on her arrival yesterday from her overseas trips that the government would stand firm to its earlier subsidy offer reached between the Natural Rubber Police Committee and the rubber farmers in Nakhon Si Thammarat. She then called on those still protesting to have sympathy to motorists affected by their road blockade.