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Democrats, PAD join forces to fight 'Thaksin regime'

Say other players in movement against Shinawatra dynasty 'lack unity, clout'

The Democrats and the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) have agreed to join political forces to fight "Thaksin's regime", Democrat MP Nipit Intarasombat said yesterday.

Nipit says he has met with Panthep Pourpongpan, a leader and spokesman for the PAD, to discuss political strategy. He said the Democrats and the PAD had a common ground and it was now time for the two sides to join forces to fight the regime.

Joining the meeting was Democrat secretary-general Chalermchai Srion, party-list MP Kasit Piromya and Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich.

According to Nipit, the Democrats and the PAD decided to resume talks as they believed current movements founded to fight "Thaksin's regime" lacked unity and political clout.

"We have come to the conclusion that we must fight Thaksin's regime together, but at the moment some political groups are restricted by their own rules, or by other restraints such as bail conditions and the restrictions on PAD leaders to give public speeches," Nipit said. "Democrat MPs don't want to resign, but if things return to a situation similar to the political crisis of 2006, they may decide to. We will therefore fight Thaksin's regime both in Parliament and on the streets."

In other developments, three influential private-sector organisations agreed to join the government-initiated political reform council.

Deputy Prime Minister Varathep Ratanakorn on Thursday sought a meeting with representatives of the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking. The committee consists of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) and the Thai Bankers Association.

In a statement, FTI chairman Payungsak Chartsutipol said the federation would join the reform initiative. "If political reform is properly planned, the economy will prosper as it has done in the United States and the United Kingdom. This will also improve people's quality of life," he said.

Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the economy could not be detached from politics and stability was important for long-term business planning. He noted that it was difficult to explain the current situation to businesspeople, investors or ambassadors and believed that dialogue was a good start to achieving reconciliation.

Thai Bankers Association secretary-general Twatchai Yongkittikul asserted that the current political impasse was of grave concern to the private sector.

There were fears that conflict would linger and affect the country's prospects when the Asean Economic Community kicks off in 2015. This period should be supported, he said. Once unity was restored, it would bolster the country's economic prospects.

Reform council

A number of influential political figures have already joined the reform council. They are former prime minister Banharn Silapa-archa, patriarch and chief adviser of the coalition Chart Thai Pattana Party; former deputy prime minister Suwat Liptapanlop, de facto leader of the coalition Chart Pattana Party; ex-PM Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who retains close ties with the ruling Pheu Thai Party; former Democrat Party leader Bhichai Rattakul; former Senate Speaker Ukrit Mongkolnavin, who chairs the government-appointed Independent National Rule of Law Commission and has aired views similar to those of the government; Senate Speaker Nikom Wairatpanij, who has close ties with Pheu Thai politicians; Kramol Tongdhamachart, former head of the Constitutional Court that ruled in favour of Thaksin in 2001 in the asset-concealment case; former House Speaker Uthai Pimchaichon; Sontaya Kunplome, culture minister and Phalang Chon leader; opposition Bhum Jai Thai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul; 2006 coup leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin; and Gothom Arya, director of Mahidol University's Research Centre for Peace Building.

Among those who have decided not to join the reform forum are social critic Prawase Wasi, who said he was far too old. The opposition Democrats will also not join the forum.


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