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Negotiating 'is only way out of this impasse'

Neither side can win, former Election Commission man Prapun tells forum

Both sides of the political conflict should realise that they will never be able to completely defeat each other and that some form of compromise is urgently needed before Thailand plunges deeper into turmoil, former Election Commissioner Prapun Naigowit said.

"Neither side is winning nor losing, but the country is suffering great damage," Prapun said.

He was speaking at a symposium at Chulalongkorn University yesterday on the role independent organisations under the Constitution can play in breaking the political deadlock. The event was organised by the Freidrich Naumann Foundation, Insight Foundation and Inside Thailand Parliament.

Prapun said the best solution would be to hold fresh elections under an agreement that the new administration carry out reforms and only stay for a short time. "It's been six months now and if we let the situation continue this way, it will become a huge problem for the country," he warned.

He also urged leaders of the armed forces and presidents of the courts of justice to come out and talk both sides into sitting down and negotiating.

Jade Donavanik, a law lecturer at Siam University, said the two sides essentially had two options - sit down and negotiate now or allow clashes to break out first before being forced to negotiate. He also called on those not directly linked to the conflict to help forge dialogue.

However, he warned that seeking an appointed premier under Article 7 of the Constitution, as the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) has done, would not bring an end to the conflict. Calling for a military coup or pushing for an election that is not accepted by the PDRC would not work either, he said.

Yet, former vice-chairman of the 2007 Constitution Drafting Assembly, Seri Suwanpanont, insisted that the military and the Privy Council had to play a lead role in seeking an appointed premier.

"[Having] weapons makes them powerful," said Seri, in reference to the armed forces. "But they're not ready [for a coup] yet. They need anarchy [before they act]." However, he said he did not wish to see another coup, adding that since Thailand was already in a political vacuum, the Privy Council should step in. "They can offer advice [to HM the King] - whether you like it or not is another matter," he said.


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