THAILAND :Red shirts in Chiang Mai in favour of new capital in “case of coup”

The embattled Thai government’s hardline “red-shirt” supporters in the country’s north say they are ready to resist any attempt by the military to stage a coup.

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Some supporters say they also expect popularly elected Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to retreat to Chiang Mai and set up government there if the army tries to take power in Bangkok amid ongoing anti-government demonstrations.

While some experts consider the government relocating an unlikely prospect, supporters like red-shirt activist Mahawang Kawang say their movement is large enough to challenge the military.

“We have no fear. All red groups will unite. We are willing to sacrifice our lives,” said Kawang, who is president of the alumni association of Yupparaj school in Chiang Mai where Yingluck was once a student.

“It is likely the government will move to Chiang Mai. We can defeat tanks because we have the numbers,” Kawang added.

Yingluck and her ruling Puea Thai party won the last election in 2011 in a landslide, thanks largely to support in the country’s north, a stronghold for her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Another election has been called for Sunday, but “yellow-shirt” protesters opposed to Yingluck and her tycoon brother have vowed to disrupt it and overthrow the government.

The yellow-shirts draw their main support from Bangkok’s middle classes, the country’s royalist elite and factions of the military. Thaksin’s rural supporters have helped him and his allies win every election since he appeared on the Thai political scene in 2001.

Thaksin was forced from power in a 2006 coup and went into exile. Corruption convictions prevent his return to Thailand. Although the army has vowed to stay out of the current red-yellow turmoil, Yingluck’s supporters eye the generals warily.

Ever since a 2010 crackdown on the red-shirts in Bangkok, thousands of villages in northern and northeast Thailand have been flying red flags. Continue reading “THAILAND :Red shirts in Chiang Mai in favour of new capital in “case of coup””