Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban yesterday ruled out the possibility of talks with politicians in power and also rejected a proposal for a national unity government with figures from all parties.
Suthep said he would only talk with Thaksin Shinawatra, who he said was the de-facto leader of the government, if the ex-premier met him in person at the Dusit Thani Hotel, which is near the main protest site at Lumpini Park.
But he didn’t think Thaksin would dare to return to Thailand for such a meeting and risk being arrested after being convicted and sentenced to two years’ jail for abuse of power.
“So the door for talks should be considered shut,” Suthep said
“I won’t have a talk with Yingluck [Shinawatra, the caretaker prime minister], either in secret or in public. Also, I won’t negotiate with any representative from the government because they have no real power,” he said.
Suthep, who is secretary general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, said his group also opposed the idea of replacing the current caretaker government with a national unity administration consisting of Cabinet members from all political parties.
“That’s because we believe that such a government would include people from Thaksin’s network,” he said.
He still insists that the caretaker administration must go and be replaced with an appointed “people’s government”.
Suthep said this goal would be achieved if thousands of rice farmers stage a protest against the government in Bangkok. He said the PDRC would be ready to support the farmers.
Meanwhile, the government’s Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) has resolved to summon individuals and businesses suspected of financing the PDRC’s protests for questioning, said Tarit Pengdith, a key CMPO official who is also director general of the Department of Special Investigation. He said bank accounts of these people and companies would be “frozen” if they failed to provide convincing explanations.
Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, who is in charge of the CMPO, said yesterday the prime minister could return to work at Government House on Monday although he wanted her to wait till Wednesday.
He said he had instructed Metropolitan Police commissioner Pol Lt Gen Camronwit Thoopkrajank to thoroughly check the compound to ensure it is safe for the PM.
Yingluck has been unable to enter Government House since protesters began camping out outside the site three months ago.
Chalerm said he would not order an operation to reclaim protest sites at the Pathumwan intersection at the moment, adding he wanted Suthep to “go broke” having to pay for holding the protest.
The protest site at Government House, meanwhile, got a clean-up after police managed to reclaim an area on Friday. City workers took part in the “big cleaning day”.
Pol Maj Gen Nipon Charoen-phol, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said that the area from the Royal Plaza to the Makkhawan Bridge was cleaned up in preparation for the Red Cross Fair in late March.
In a related development, 40 more companies of crowd-control police were sent yesterday from several provinces in the north. They will serve as reinforcements to some 30 companies that have already been dispatched in Bangkok, according to a police source.
The police are expected to help increase pressure on protesters in the capital or a possible crackdown on PDRC protest sites, the source said.