Pheu Thai gives its backing to Charoen's mission
Prompong urges Democrats to reconsider stand on amnesty; Suriyasai doubts deputy speaker's credentialsThe Pheu Thai Party yesterday reaffirmed its support for Deputy House Speaker Charoen Chankomol's reconciliation campaign ahead of today's scheduled mediation meeting.
"What Charoen is doing will benefit all sides," ruling party spokesman Prompong Nopparit said.
Prompong urged the opposition Democrats to abandon their boycott and join Charoen's mediation efforts.
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva had supported the reconciliation process before his party's spokesman Chavanond Intara-komalyasut revealed the opposition's about-turn, he said.
The Democrats should reconsider their stance on amnesty and reconciliation because their unjustified antagonism would show them in a bad light for trying to stoke the political conflict for self-serving gains, he said.
Charoen will kick start and chair the mediation talks on amnesty and reconciliation, but success looks remote as the Democrats have refused to participate and the yellow shirts, led by the People's Alliance for Democracy, are also likely to be no-shows.
The opposition movement contends that Pheu Thai MPs and the red shirts have suspiciously mapped out pardon provisions without consulting all parties or seeking a consensus.
The red shirts rushed to work with a clique of Pheu Thai MPs on the amnesty issue as if they wanted to force the ruling party, particularly its main patron Thaksin, to make a unilateral move in their favour with reckless disregard for their opponents.
Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha was ready to dispatch his representative to the talks but the military has not received any formal invitation yet, Army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.
Democrat MP Ongart Klampai-boon called on the government to stop using the amnesty issue as a smokescreen to rescue just one man, Thaksin Shinawatra.
"The Democrats are fully in support of reconciliation but will not condone the sidestepping of the rule of law," he said. The government, by relying on its 42 MPs to sponsor the amnesty bill and by propping up Charoen as the mediator, appeared to be trying to help Thaksin overcome his legal predicament, he said.
If the government refused to withdraw the four reconciliation bills, which were clearly designed to absolve Thaksin of his criminal guilt, then the amnesty push might just be a pretext to relaunch the debate aimed at benefiting the fugitive leader rather than those involved in the political turbulence. Should the Democrats step aside and allow the amnesty and reconciliation debate to proceed in the House, Pheu Thai MPs could later file a motion to extend the amnesty to cover Thaksin, he said.
The Democrats would not take part in Charoen's mediation efforts due to lingering doubts over the government's true motives, he added.
Suriyasai Katasila, coordinator of the Green Politics group, saw little substance coming out of the reconciliation talks set for today.
"Charoen just does not have the public's trust to play the role of mediator," he said.
Charoen's efforts to reach out to all sides in the conflict were futile as Pheu Thai MPs had already sponsored draft provisions for amnesty even before consulting with the other parties, he said.