Army ready to join amnesty talks
Deputy House Speaker invites 10 groups, including 8 proposed by PADThe military would be happy to send representatives to join talks on an amnesty law if invited, Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said yesterday.
However, there must be representatives from all the armed forces, not only the Army, he said.
"If we can have reconciliation, that's good. I don't want to fight. But we have to give justice to all groups of people. We have to do it right according to the laws. Don't make it problematic. Before granting amnesty we have to look into what the laws say what to do about wrongdoing," he said.
The military is one of the new stakeholders invited by Deputy House Speaker Charoen Jankomol to discuss amnesty for those involved in political rallies in and before the turmoil in 2010.
While the Democrats refused to join in, the People's Alliance for Democracy on Wednesday proposed to Charoen that he should invite eight groups for talks: the Pheu Thai Party, the red shirts, the Democrat Party, the PAD, the people affected by the political turmoil, Nicha Hiranburana Thuwatham - wife of Colonel Romklao who was killed, the Truth for Reconciliation Committee of Thailand and the anti-government Pitak Siam group.
Charoen said yesterday he had invited the 10 groups of stakeholders to meet on Monday, including the eight groups proposed by the PAD. The other one is Bhum Jai Thai Party.
"I'm not doing only to support the Pheu Thai Party, but for the sake of the public. If others do not join, I don't know what to do," he said.
Nevertheless, PAD spokesman Parnthep Pourpongpan yesterday posted on his Facebook page "I have a sense that there might be a [political] rally soon."
It was after Pheu Thai MPs submitted an amnesty law draft to House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont on Thursday.
Parnthep told the media later that the move of the red shirt MPs to submit their draft for an amnesty law even while talks between many groups in society were still in progress was like forcing other groups to join in. The MPs were apparently threatening them that unless they joined in the talks, the Pheu Thai MPs' draft might get passed by Parliament. Pheu Thai MPs had submitted the draft to House Speaker Somsak without waiting for talks with the other stakeholders.
"I think the reason why the Democrats have refused to join in the talks was their doubts about the political agenda, so the Reconciliation bills should be withdrawn from parliamentary motion. However, the Pheu Thai Party likely can't allow that as it would lose face," he said, adding the PAD would consider a rally after seeing whether what the government does.
The yellow shirts announced last March it would stage rallies again in case a constitutional amendment affects the status of the monarchy, or any law is passed granting amnesty to fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his group.
Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University law lecturer Komson Pokong said that Pheu Thai MPs, some of them red shirts, were proposing the laws to whitewash themselves as Worachai and some of the MPs were facing the charge of terrorism.
Passing the law could be seen as conflict of interest, he said.
"House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont should think carefully. Although it might still be lawful even if the people who proposed the laws have conflict of interest, it was inappropriate. If the law is passed, some people might ask the Constitution Court to rule on it," he said.
In a separate development, chief opposition whip Jurin Laksanawisit yesterday submitted a letter to Somsak and House secretary-general Suwichag Nakwatcharachai calling for an investigation into the case of MPs registering for others as being present in the House Chamber on Thursday while they were absent.
Jurin said there must be cheating in the registration of at least 135 MPs, mostly government MPs.
The electronic registration showed 256 were in the chamber but a manual count by Parliament staff showed only 121 MPs in the chamber leading to the adjournment of the House due to lack of quorum.