A key member of the People's Alliance for Democracy has been arrested on outstanding charges stemming from the movement's seizure in 2008 of Bangkok's two commercial airports.
Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang, right, speaks to fellow members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, including Parnthep Pourpongpan, second right, and Praphan Khoonmee, wearing glasses. The alliance is pressing the government to bring home Thai Patriots Network coordinator Veera Somkhwamkid and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon after the two were sentenced to jail on Tuesday by a Phnom Penh court for espionage. PATTANAPOPNG HIRUNARD
The arrest last night comes as the PAD announced it is planning a major rally on Saturday to try to force the government from office and derail plans to hold a general election on the government's own terms.
Former senator Karun Saingam was arrested last night at Suvarnabhum airport as he returned from Cambodia.
He had been in Phnom Penh as part of a legal team put together by the Thai Patriots Network to assist seven Thais arrested on Dec 29 for illegal entry to Cambodia.
Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang, one of the PAD's key leaders, said yesterday the alliance planned to raise the intensity of its anti-government rally near Government House after the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday sentenced Thai Patriots Network coordinator Veera Somkhwamkid to eight years in jail and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon to six years for spying.
Maj Gen Chamlong said the Abhisit government must see to it that the two are brought home within three days.
If the government ignored its demand, the alliance would seek a "consensus" on Saturday as to what action should be taken against the government by PAD supporters across the country.
He told his supporters last night it was up to them to decide on Saturday if the PAD would invade Government House. "Don't listen to anyone who orders you to invade Government House. Just listen to me and the other leaders and Parnthep [Pourpongpan, PAD spokesman]," he said.
The PAD supporters occupied Government for 193 days in 2008 in an attempt to topple the Somchai Wongsawat government. Maj Gen Chamlong said last night: "Don't worry. It's easy to enter Government House. No one knows the place like I do."
A source close to Maj Gen Chamlong said the move to step up the protest was aimed at trying to oust the government from office and to prevent a general election called by the government.
The PAD does not believe an election will bring about a government able to end the problems besetting the country.
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who oversees national security, said yesterday the government could not dissolve the House and hold an early election while the PAD and its allies - the Thai Patriots Network and Santi Asoke sect - continue with their protests.
Mr Suthep said political stability was one of the preconditions set by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva before dissolving the House. The prime minister needed to be sure the election could proceed peacefully.
A government source said an election was out of the question before parliament met on Feb 11 to vote on the third reading of the proposed amendments to the constitution and the House of Representatives met on Feb 16-17 to deliberate an important piece of legislation on the supplementary mid-year 2011 budget, which will have to wait on endorsement by the Senate in the middle of next month.
Mr Abhisit yesterday called on all sides to unify in helping the two Thais imprisoned in Cambodia. He said the PAD should not exploit the issue for political gain.
"If you disagree with the government, you'd better talk to the government and tell us your best solution. But someone is trying to politicise the issue," he said.
The prime minister said Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya would fly to Cambodia today to negotiate with his Cambodian counterpart, Hor Namhong, on the release of Mr Veera and Ms Ratree.