Thursday, 7 July 2011

Rift erupts in the red-shirt movement

The red-shirt movement appears split following the general election and a hardline faction has demanded for chairwoman Thida Thaworseth to step down, Thai Rath online reported on Thursday.

The rift came to light at a meeting on Wednesday when Thida scheduled to talk to key figures before holding a press conference on the movement's post-election stand.

Hardline figures, such as Prasaeng Mongkolsiri, Suporn Atthawong, Wisa Kanthap and Wipoj Apornrat, refused to meet Thida. Instead they designated Chinnawat Haboonpad as their representative.

At the meeting, Chinnawat questioned Thaida's leadership and demanded her resignation. He said Thida was no longer fit to lead the movement since her husband Weng Tojirakarn got elected under Pheu Thai Party's banner, hence triggering a conflic of interest between the party and the movement.

He proposed to revamp the movement, arguing that the red shirts needed a make-over in order to overcome their image mired by violence.

He further stated that a legal pundit, like former charter writer Kanin Boonsuwan, should be at the movement's helm since the struggle for justice would move from the streets to the judicial and legislative corridors.

He said red hardliners would not quit the movement but organise their own activities if Thida refused to resign.

In her rebuttal, Thida said she did not want the job in the first place. She said she reluctantly assumed the movement leadership after several red-shirt leaders were either in jail or in exile abroad.

She said she suspected her leadership was being questioned because of those leaders returning from exile.

She said she won't allow the movement to revert back to the "old way" as demanded by the hardliners.

Thida's supporter Worawut Wichaidit said the red shirts should act as shield for the Pheu Thai-led government which will, in turn, help them to overcome the legal issues.

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