The Thai government on Wednesday threatened to cut supplies of electricity, water and food to thousands of protestors occupying a central Bangkok commercial district, to force them to end their two—month demonstration.
The utility cuts to the Ratchaprasong Road neighbourhood will go into effect at midnight on Wednesday, said Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd, spokesman of the government’s emergency operations centre.
Colonel Sansern said that besides cutting electricity and water, authorities would also block mobile phones and the delivery of food to the area occupied by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) since April 3.
UDD leaders brushed off the latest government threats, claiming that they were already using their own generators to light their protest stage and operate air conditioners in the vans where they sleep. The UDD has been holding protests in Bangkok since March 12 to force Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign and hold new elections.
Last week, Mr. Abhisit agreed to dissolve parliament between September 15 and 30, hold an election on November 14, and set up a national reconciliation process to pave the way for peaceful polls.
The UDD initially welcomed the proposal, but they have refused to leave the area of shopping malls and hotels that has been losing an estimated 10 million dollars in revenue per day.
The 24 top UDD leaders are afraid to quit their protest site because they face arrest once they step outside the barricades, on various charges including breaking the country’s emergency law, terrorism and criticizing the monarchy.
They have been trying to get the government to guarantee bail after arrest, but authorities have refused to do so for four of the leaders who face charges of instigating violence.
The protest has led to bloody clashes between troops and demonstrators that have claimed 29 dead, including six soldiers and two policemen, and left more than 900 wounded.
There was initial optimism that Mr. Abhisit’s reconciliation proposal would end the protest, but it was eroded this week by the UDD’s insistence that the government meet its conditions for surrender.
Keywords: Political turmoil