Democrats to shun council if amnesty bid not halted

national August 26, 2013 00:00

By Pimnara Pradubwit,
Kesinee Ta

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Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the opposition Democrat Party, said yesterday he would not change his mind about boycotting the prime minister's proposed political-reform council as long as the government insists on passing an amnesty law.

“The government must withdraw the bill, which is the condition that’s creating conflicts,’’ he said.
Democrat MP Ong-art Klampaiboon, head of the party’s Bangkok MPs, said that of those expected to participate in the council, 60 per cent were allies of the government and shared the same mind-set about political reform; 20 per cent held the government in high esteem, and the rest did not have a clear stance. 
With such a profile, the government could already count on the conclusion of the council’s deliberations, which was none other than to rewrite the whole charter and grant an across-the-board amnesty, Ong-art said. 
“The government aims to use this platform as a front to give it legitimacy. Not only will this plan not work and fail to provide a solution for the country, the government might also have to find an emergency exit for its Cabinet,’’ he said.
There was no hope for the council to achieve reconciliation since its members sided with the government. The government has also rejected proposals lodged by many groups to reduce differences between the political camps, he said. “The ultimate objective of the council is to restructure the entire Constitution,” he said.
Although the leadership of the anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy had decided to step down, they would resume their fight against the Thaksin regime when the time is right, he said. PAD supporters have approached the Democrat Party about working together to campaign against the government, he said.
Suriyasai Katasila, coordinator of the Green Politics movement, said the government was using the council to prolong its life. “The government has abused its power and has failed to solve the people’s problems, while allowing the red shirts to intimidate independent organisations,’’ he said.

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