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Yingluck and Suthep urged to nominate 10 mediators

Posted by Rattana_S On March - 18 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Six independent organisations are calling on caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to nominate 10 individuals each, who can mediate between both sides and help end the political impasse.

Leaders of the six agencies – the Election Commission, National Human Rights Commission, Office of the Ombudsman, National Anti-Corruption Commission, Office of the Auditor-General and National Economic and Social Advisory Council – hope to get a reply from the two sides within a week.

“The big question is which individuals will be acceptable to both?” Election Commission member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn asked, adding that the mass media should also encourage both sides to come up with names.

Somchai said putting differences on the table was the best way forward for the country and the six organisations would only facilitate the creation of a mediation team, comprised of at least five members who are acceptable to both sides and have no specific agenda set in advance.

“Obviously, there can be no negotiation if neither side is willing … The country has suffered enough and will suffer even more if there are no talks. If they won’t come up with nominees, then we can’t go any further, which means there are no Thais who can act as mediators … So carry on with the war. We have created a bridge for both sides, but if they won’t use it, it’s their choice, though they will have to take responsibility if it causes more damage to the country,” Somchai said, adding that the public also wanted mediators to be nominated.

The six bodies will send a joint letter to both Yingluck and Suthep today, chief ombudsman Panit Nitithanprapas said, adding that she believed both sides wanted to end the political impasse as the crisis had become “unprecedented” in its magnitude.

“[We’re] concerned the damage may go beyond the point of remedy, we need to end the conflict and foster unity,” said Panit, who met the press at a conference room at her office. She also cited a recent Dusit Poll that showed most people want both sides to start negotiating.

The group also said any demands found to be against the law or ones that affect the duty of any of the six agencies would not be accepted.

Opas Tepalakul, chairman of the National Economic and Social Advisory Board, said if negotiations were not possible, then a “special process” would be held to end the conflict. He did not elaborate. When asked what would happen if the initiative failed, National Human Rights Commission chairperson Amara Pongsapich said Thai people should have some hope. “We believe we can find [mediators] and will not have to look outside Thailand.”

PM’s Office Minister Varathep Ratanakorn said the mediators were not as important as the “conditions” of the talks. If the conditions were against the constitution, it would be impossible.

Chulalongkorn political scientist Trakoon Meechai said the proposal to have mediators for talks was just a way to solve problems, but they must not be put under a rug.

Green Politics coordinator Suriyasai Katasila, a member of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, said the situation had gone too far for talks, and the government faced many legal issues. Independent agencies should go back, do their work and strictly observe the law.

An anti-government protest leader on Tuesday ordered a tightening of security following a series of attacks near protest sites with the latest explosion at Lumpini Park wounding three volunteer guards, one seriously.

The move came shortly after a blast took place just 500 metres from Lumpini Park, the main protest site, early Tuesday morning.

A 32-year-old man, identified as Ullmani Sewon, who is also a volunteer guard in the rally medical team, was seriously wounded and sent to nearby Chulalongkorn Hospital. He is now in stable condition in the Intensive Care Unit. Two other volunteer guards were slightly wounded.

Thaworn Senneam, a key leader of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), said the daily attacks had nothing to do with the anti-government protesters but the caretaker government must be held accountable for the violence as it is enforcing the special security law.

Following the latest violence, Thaworn said he asked the police to set up checkpoints along with those of the rally guards at Wireless Road. To ensure the protesters safety, a protective net has been installed around the makeshift stage and all guards will be on high alert to avert any untoward incident.

Thaworn said he opposed the enforcement of the emergency decree as it is adversely affecting the country’s economy. The Internal Security Act enforcement does not bode well either.

Hours earlier, an M79 grenade hit the Chaeng Wattana Road near the Lotus superstore but no one was injured. Police investigators said the gunman could have fired the grenade from a street near Klong Prapa Chaeng Wattana. The target was likely to be a security checkpoint manned by police and soldiers just 50 metres from the scene.

Taya pulls back for safety of family and students

Posted by Rattana_S On March - 7 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

A rally leader who blew a whistle at the former wife of fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra announced on Friday that she has decided to suspend her political activities following bomb attacks at her house and her mother’s Khao Yai residence.

The suspension is for the safety of her family, her mother’s and the students of her mother’s school, Taya Teepsuwan wrote on her Facebook page.

Taya, a former Bangkok deputy governor, and her husband; Nuthapol, were among a group of anti-government protesters who blew whistles at Khunying Potjaman Na Pombejra at the Emporium Shopping Complex late last month.

Since then, her Sukhumvit residence has been the target of two bomb attacks and another attack was made on the Korat residence of her mother; Khunying Sasima Srivikorn, owner of Srivikorn School. No one was injured in any of attacks.

Taya said on Facebook that she made the decision out of concern for the safety of the students at her mother’s school.

“The attacks using weapons of war took place at my mother’s Khao Yai residence and at my house and there have also been a series of threats to Srivikorn School in the past week. I’m very sorry for those who had to suffer the consequences of my activities. I’m very concerned for the safety of those people.”

“After reviewing everything, I decide to take responsibility by suspending my political activities. I hope that my decision will protect my mother and other people, particularly the students who may be harmed,” she wrote.

Secession-call issue raised at Defence Council meet

Posted by Rattana_S On March - 4 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

A MEETING of the Defence Council Tuesday comprising government figures and top military brass went smoothly, after initial fears of a confrontation over possible legal action against pro-government red shirts by the Army over secession remarks.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha defended himself against criticism over his alleged favouritism of the anti-government movement.

He faced claims of Army inaction towards the activities and protests by the People’s Democratic Reform Commission (PDRC), while legal action was taken against pro-government red shirts after their alleged calls for secession.

Prayuth said the caretaker government and anti-protest command had already dealt with the PDRC, while the Army initiated legal action dealing with the secession call – which he said represented “clear and present danger”.

After the meeting, Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Paphathip Sawangsaeng quoted caretaker PM Yingluck Shinawatra, who is also caretaker defence minister, as vowing not to allow secession, or any violation of the Constitution. She instructed all security authorities, especially the Internal Security Operations Command, to act against the secession call “treating all political groups equally”, said the colonel.

The spokesman said Yingluck thanked the military for performing its security duties and providing medical assistance during the protests. She repeated her call for the military to review the locations of military emplacements in Bangkok to make them appropriate to the situation and befitting the country’s image.

She thanked the military for ordering troops to vote in the general election on February 2.

She also praised military units in the far South for their handling of insurgency-related violence and called for support of royally initiated strategies to win over the local population in the region. She also asked the military to support the Senate election on March 30 and stay neutral in Thai politics.

The meeting was called by Yingluck and held at the Air Force main auditorium in northern Bangkok. The event discussed routine agendas and defence affairs as well as political issues, including the continuing PDRC protests, the coming senatorial candidacy registration and election, and secession calls by red-shirt groups and their reported mobilisation of men and equipment.