'Dissolve parliament'
By Bangkok Post Reporters

Army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda has advised Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to think seriously about dissolving the House to end the turmoil on the streets of the capital.

Gen Anupong, who joined top-level security officials at the Army Club to monitor the People's Alliance for Democracy's protest march yesterday afternoon, told Mr Samak he should explore the House dissolution option, a source said. This was because the PAD demonstrators had declared victory by laying siege to Government House.

Clearing the decks would allow the people to "make a new decision" at a fresh general election.

In the meantime, Mr Samak would head a caretaker government and remain in power long enough to supervise a major military reshuffle in August.

The source added Mr Samak would help ward off any influence from former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in the military shake-up.

"Part of the reason Gen Anupong doesn't want Mr Samak to resign is because he fears that his replacement will not be as compromising with the military. The new prime minister would only be a yes-man to Mr Thaksin," the source said.

A House dissolution, however, is technically impossible at present because the no-confidence motion filed by the opposition Democrats has been put on parliament's agenda.

Under the 2007 charter, the prime minister is not allowed to dissolve the House during a no-confidence session.

Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, however, said the opposition may "remove the lock" by withdrawing the censure motion if the government sought its cooperation.

The source said Gen Anupong ordered all army units to remain on standby and stay neutral as senators echoed calls for the military to stay in their barracks.

The number of PAD supporters, meanwhile, reached tens of thousands. The protesters started mobilising at about 10am yesterday.

Bands of protesters, mostly in yellow shirts, started their march and pushed their way past police barricades on Ratchadamnoen avenue and surrounded Government House at 3.30pm.

Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, a PAD leader, then declared the victory in front of Government House.

"The PAD movement today is an historic event and a great credit to the country. In the face of such a phenomenon, the government will have to get out within a few days," he said.

It is unclear how long the PAD plans to lay siege to Government House, although there is speculation the protest could last many days.

Mr Samak yesterday declined to comment on the PAD rally, saying he would only talk about preparations for the Asean Summit to be held in Thailand in December. He presided over a meeting at the Foreign Ministry on the summit.

"Let's ask the ones who are responsible for the PAD rally," he said.

A source close to Mr Samak said the prime minister will likely convert the Defence Ministry into a temporary office and the cabinet has scheduled its weekly meeting on Tuesday at the Foreign Ministry.

Mr Samak was reportedly angry at the police's failure to hold back the protesters.

Police chief Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan said police on the front line, including border patrol officers, were told to avoid clashes with the protesters at all costs.

"I'm pleased no one was hurt," the police chief said.

It was reported Mr Samak told the security meeting yesterday one measure to get back at the protesters was to deny them mobile toilets.

During the march, police equipped with shields and protesters pushed and shoved each other briefly. Four police officers, two of them women, sustained some injuries and were treated at the Police Hospital.

The protesters managed to break through the police barriers and later regrouped outside Government House before the PAD leaders took to the makeshift stage to declare victory over the government.

PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul said the PAD would petition the Administrative Court to order the government not to proceed with the joint communique it signed with Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple issue.

The PAD would also file criminal action against the cabinet for endorsing the joint communique.