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Private sector calls for compromise talks 'for sake of country'

Both ends of the political-rally spectrum - anti- and pro-government - were thrust into the limelight following the Constitutional Court's key ruling yesterday, as the private sector urged the opposing groups to hold compromise talks "for the sake of the country", instead of resorting to violence.

The court ruled that caretaker PM Yingluck Shinawatra should lose her prime-ministerial status and be removed from office, along with some of her Cabinet members.

The SET Index yesterday slid 1.40 points to close at 1,402.61, rebounding from 1,389.92 points in early trading in response to positive stock-market sentiment because those ministers not covered by the ruling can continue their work in the caretaker Cabinet.

Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan was appointed caretaker premier, succeeding Yingluck after the court's ruling.

"It is the right timing for all parties to negotiate and find the best solution for the country," said Supan Mongkolsuthee, president of the Federation of Thai Industries.

He said the caretaker administration and anti-government parties should hold reform talks, as well as discuss the holding of a national election as a parallel solution.

With Yingluck having to step down from her post as premier, the anti-government protesters should end their rallies as well, he added.

However, Supan said he was also worried about possible violence if the pro-government groups were dissatisfied with yesterday's ruling.

Thai Chamber of Commerce vice chairman Pornsilp Patchrintanakul said he was concerned over the pro-government red-shirts rallying to call for a general election.

"No matter what judgement came out, it was not going to be easy to end the conflict. The anti-government protesters will continue their political activities calling for 'reform' before 'election', leading to difficulties in holding a new general election this year," he said.

To break the political impasse, Pornsilp suggested that the new caretaker PM should announce clearly that he would be committed to supporting a reform plan.

Meanwhile, Supavud Saicheua, managing director of Phatra Securities, said he did not think the charter court's ruling had changed the country's political situation, because the same stalemate remained.

"We believe the conflict will be prolonged until the end of this year, meaning that implementation of the 2014/2015 fiscal budget will be delayed," he said, adding that the brokerage's economic-growth forecast for the year remained at 1.1 per cent.

Charl Kengchon, managing director of Kasikorn Research Centre, said the ruling opened the door for Thailand to move forward in regard to reform before an election. However, such a scenario must entail cooperation from the caretaker coalition government, he stressed.

Kesara Manchusree, executive vice president of the Stock Exchange of Thailand, said the rebound of the SET index yesterday afternoon reflected positive sentiment.

"[However,] After the ruling, the market may feel negative sentiment if there is any violence," she warned.

Tisco Securities said in its latest analysis that the court's ruling would accelerate the holding of massive rallies by both pro- and anti-government protesters next week, and that there was a likely risk of ensuing chaos.

"We believe the SET Index could fall below 1,400 points, prior to moving sideways up," the company reiterated.


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