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Negotiate now or slide into civil war

Stirred by hate-mongering on both sides and indiscriminate use of deadly force, we are slipping into civil war. Four children, caught in the line of fire, are dead - and for what? Yingluck Shinawatra has abjectly failed to protect the right of protesters to participate in demonstrations that the Constitutional Court has ruled legal. Suthep Thaugsuban has threatened that "popcorn warriors" might be used and is seeking to ban Thaksin Shinawatra's followers, in violation of the Constitution, but to the cheering of crowds. Red shirts cheered upon hearing that children had been murdered and red-shirt leader Suporn Attawong said 200,000 men would fight to protect democracy and "rid Thailand of the PDRC".

Suthep refuses point-blank to negotiate, while Yingluck will negotiate with anybody but has broken her word time and again.

We are slowly but surely slipping into civil war. Yingluck was elected but cannot govern, but if Suthep ousts her through street protests, the red shirts will oust any government he names, |using assault rifles instead of |whistles.

To prevent us becoming another Ukraine, the two sides should start negotiating in good faith, lest the people and monarchy that both profess to love be torn asunder.

Suthep should offer a slate of reform measures and a timeframe for action on corruption and vote-buying before elections can be held. Yingluck should order the police and military to closely coordinate with the demonstrators to ensure their safety, and see what reforms are compatible with our Constitution, so that we can |have elections and return to democracy.

Let us negotiate now, before we enter the abyss of war with ourselves.

Burin Kantabutra

Bangkok


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