Thai military chief on Tuesday expressed optimism that the scheduled anti-government mass rally on Wednesday would not turn into violence.
"I expect the red-shirt people (anti-government protesters) to abide by the law and their protest should proceed within the legal
limits," The Nation news website quoted Supreme Commander General Songkitti Chakkabatr as saying.
The anti-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) is planning a mass rally on Wednesday which it estimated will attract more than 100,000 people. The demonstration, starting from March 26, has forced Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to change the venue of the weekly cabinet meeting from Bangkok's
Government House to Pattaya, a beach resort some 145 km southeast to Bangkok.
When asked how the army would respond to the possible violence, General Songkitti said the army would not stage a coup to bring the situation under control.
On Tuesday morning, some 5,000 policemen from five provinces were deployed to guard Royal Cliff Beach Hotel in Pattaya, where the Cabinet held a mobile meeting. The hotel is also the venue of the
ASEAN plus 3 and East Asia summits, scheduled on April 10-12.
A coup led by former Army Chief General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin on Sept. 19, 2006 toppled administration of Thaksin Shinawatra, who is facing arrest warrant on corruption charges. Recently, the former premier called for a "people revolution" through video to his "red shirt" supporters.