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Abhisit's reform talk starts

To meet with Armed Forces chief, reform advocates; PM silent on call for discussion

In a renewed effort to help end the political deadlock and avert further violence, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday unveiled a plan to hold talks with some prominent figures and parties to seek a solution for the country.

"We need to guide our country towards reform. Reform must be carried out under constitutional and democratic principles. And the election process must be acceptable to all," the former prime minister said yesterday.

Abhisit said he would meet today with Kittipong Kittayarak, permanent secretary of the Justice Ministry, and the Reform Now Network, followed by General Tanasak Patimapragorn, supreme commander of the Armed Forces, on Monday.

He would also attempt to hold similar discussions with the government, political parties and various groups of demonstrators.

"I am confident that with a common starting point agreed upon, we will be able to find the answer for our country in the long run. It will be a good answer for our country's future and for our children and grandchildren," he said.

"I would like to invite you all to give our country a chance."

His remarks came in a 3.49-minute video uploaded to YouTube.

Abhisit said that with caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban refusing to hold talks to end the crisis, he felt he could not remain idle.

"We have to start by admitting that nobody will get all they want. We have to start with adhering to the national interest and finding a common point that will allow the country to move forward," he said.

The answer for the country, Abhisit said, does not depend on an election that threatens to renew confrontation and violence, contests to draw the biggest rally crowds, a court verdict, or even another military coup.

Parties should not be pointing fingers at each other over the political deadlock, he said, adding that he included himself and his Democrat Party in this.

"It's not time to blame each other. We are all responsible for having brought the country to this point," he said. The country should not be allowed to remain in this state any longer, Abhisit said, adding that fears have arisen of increased violence, and possibly a coup or even a civil war.

Kittipong said he would meet with Abhisit as a member of the Reform Now Network, and not as the permanent secretary of the Justice Ministry.

The People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) welcomed Abhisit's proposal to find a breakthrough for the country, saying it was in line with the anti-government movement's goal.

"The PDRC is ready to have a talk with Abhisit and anyone else who has good intentions toward the country," PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan said.

Ruling Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit offered to liaise between Abhisit and the government.

Abhisit would act as a good mediator between the government and Suthep, who is the PDRC's secretary-general, he said.

Yingluck did not respond to Abhisit's call for talks between himself and the prime minister. She simply smiled when asked to comment on his request.

Yingluck, who is also the defence minister, urged the military and the bureaucracy to remain politically neutral.


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