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Agencies offer to mediate end to conflict

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra inspects the country

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra inspects the country

Seven independent bodies discuss 'road map' out of political crisis

Seven independent agencies met yesterday to look for ways to pull Thailand out of the political conflict, a member of one of the organisations said.

At the meeting, the agencies came up with a "road map" and framework of talks between the two conflicting sides, Election Commission member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said yesterday.

He added that the chiefs of those agencies would hold a joint press conference on Monday about their proposal at the Office of the Ombudsman in the Government Complex.

This was the latest in a series of efforts from different organisations and social sectors, including private businesses, to end the conflict that has continued for more than three months.

The seven independent agencies are the EC, Office of the Ombudsman, National Anti-Corruption Commission, Office of the Auditor-General, Office of the Attorney-General, National Human Rights Commission, and National Economic and Social Advisory Council.

The agencies are getting ready to mediate negotiations between the two sides in a bid to end the feud, which has had a severe impact on the country's economy, Chalermsak Chantaratim, secretary-general of the Ombudsman's Office, said yesterday. He said the move came after recent public opinion polls showed that people wanted both sides to talk.

"We [the seven agencies] agree that we have to do something to cut down on the confrontation and violence," Chalermsak said yesterday.

"We were not inactive earlier and today's discussion wasn't the first one. Previously, we didn't offer to mediate negotiations because other groups had made that

offer. However, since the problems have continued, we have to make our stance known."

Chalermsak said the group would listen to views and proposals from both sides, one at a time, and would also mediate in face-to-face talks between both sides.

Leaders or senior officials, such as Somchai from the EC, represented their respective agencies at yesterday's meeting.

Ombudsman Siracha Charoenpanij, who chaired the meeting, said they wanted to see the conflicting sides come to a compromise for the sake of the country. He said the agencies would warn the two sides that a lingering feud would only send the country's economy into a nosedive.

A government led by a politically neutral person would be suggested in order to allow reforms to be carried out for a year before general elections are held, he said.

However, some participants expressed concern that an unelected prime minister might not be widely accepted, a source said, who also pointed out that a complete Parliament would be needed before reforms could be carried out.

Siracha also said yesterday that if each side accepted the other's proposals, then an agreement could be achieved as early as the end of this month or mid-April, or at least no later than Songkran.

Meanwhile, Akanat Promphan, spokesman for the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), said the group would reserve its stance about the proposal at the moment.

"Independent agencies have their own duties. They are obliged to check and balance [other agencies and mechanisms], they must take action according to what is right and what is wrong, who is right and who is wrong. But for their offered role as a mediator or facilitator of talks, we are not accepting or refusing at the moment," he said.

Pheu Thai Party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan said his party welcomed the offer and would agree to whatever brings peace to the country. However, he said, he did not have high expectations.

In a related development, the Civil Court yesterday issued an injunction suspending an Interior Ministry order to deport Indian-born businessman Satish Sehgal pending a ruling in the case.

The ministry had earlier issued an order to have Sehgal deported as he had allegedly led a violent protest. However, he appealed to the Civil Court and sought an injunction against the order pending a review.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, meanwhile, recently lamented what she described as unfair treatment against her and her government. The complaint came after a series of legal actions were filed with courts and the anti-graft agency in relation to some of her government policies.








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