Reds to stay put, for now
Secret negotiations stall over amnesty for banned politicians; DAAD wants details of plan before ending protest. -The Nation/ANN
THAILAND - The red shirts yesterday said they would continue their protest in the Rajprasong business area until they obtained all the details of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's road map for national reconciliation.
They want this to include an amnesty from all charges and a clear stance on the road map from the ruling Democrat Party and its coalition partners.
"The government still poses a threat to us while the prime minister talks about reconciliation," said red leader Natthawut Saikua.
Reconciliation cannot happen in this tense atmosphere, he said.
"Even militants in the restive South have never been charged with terrorism. May I ask why the government charged nine red leaders as terrorists?" he asked. "Prime Minister Abhisit should take time to reconsider this matter."
The hope of seeing the red protest end on Coronation Day dissolved yesterday as both sides were unable to settle many differences in secret negotiations.
The red shirts wanted the government to map out details of the reconciliation plan and give a specific date for dissolution of Parliament.
Democrat MP Sirichoke Sopha yesterday said it was unnecessary to set the date for dissolution, as the November 14 poll day obviously meant the House would have to be dissolved between September 15 and 30, in accordance with the Constitution.
The charter stipulates an election must be held within 45-60 days of House dissolution. But the red shirts still want an official announcement, because they need time to wind down their protest.
Amnesty was also a key point, as the government will likely agree to grant amnesty for all political charges, including the five-year ban imposed on 111 politicians in 2007 and 109 politicians in 2008. However, it disagreed with the idea of overlooking criminal charges, including terrorism and lese majeste, a source close to the negotiation said.
The red-shirt leaders earlier said in public that they did not need amnesty for their criminal charges but wanted equal treatment with others in the government and the rival yellow shirts.
Coalition parties in a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban on Tuesday evening backed the idea of an amnesty, as many of their key leaders have been banned from politics.
Another leader, weng Tojirakarn, said the red shirts also had a five-point plan for the government to follow. They are:
- Lift the state of emergency
- Send security forces back to their barracks
- End the propaganda against the protesters
- Let red media back on air and online
- End cooking up evidence for the charges against the protesters.
"Not only do the red shirts need to consider the government's road map, but the government also needs to consider our plan," Natthawut said.
The red shirts want the ruling Democrat Party to make the proposed road map clear to its members. Abhisit, as leader of the party, seems to have a difference of opinion with the party' chief adviser, Chuan Leekpai, who says he disagrees with Parliament's dissolution, Natthawut said.
The Democrat Party also may have some difficulties with the coalition parties over the constitutional amendments, as the ruling party does not want to rewrite the charter.
A large number of Democrat MPs from Bangkok and the South have been bombarded by angry calls from their constituents, protesting against the road map for reconciliation.
Sources in the main coalition party said the anger was due to a perceived U-turn to organise the fresh elections even though Prime Minister Abhisit had confirmed a snap poll would not take place before nine months.
"Several Democrat constituents are not happy about the hasty move to move the poll date forward," a party source said.
All 37 Democrat MPs from Bangkok have received angry phone calls regarding Abhisit's decision to bow to the red shirts' demand for dissolution of Parliament.
Many said they wanted to see the law upheld when dealing with the unruly crowds and that they saw no justification in organising the elections under pressure.
Party sources said the Democrats would listen to Abhisit explain himself today before deciding their next move.
-The Nation/Asia News Network
|Privacy Statement Conditions of Access Advertise|