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Quiet 'unity' breakfast in Udon Thani

In a post-coup campaign to reconcile people of different political colours, the authorities brought together local red-shirt leaders and members of the rival People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) in Udon Thani yesterday morning over breakfast.

A couple of PDRC members were the first to arrive at a food shop in Muang district, before they were joined by red-shirt leader Kwanchai Sarakham and his wife Aporn. On the menu was the traditional Northeastern delicacy "khai kratha" or eggs served up on a hot skillet. Though the two sides reportedly did not converse much and only exchanged words via a mediator, the four did agree to shake hands in front of the camera after eating.

The event dubbed "Morning Reconciliatory Coffee" was led by local Army and police commanders, as well as senior civilian officials. It is part of the "Udon Model" under the National Council for Peace and Order's (NCPO) "Creating Happiness, Pushing the Country Forward" campaign.

Deputy provincial governor Sutthinant Bunmee said participants at these events are not allowed to talk about the past, but encouraged instead to begin dialogues anew.

The next event is "Phook Siew" or traditional thread-tying ceremony, which will be held next Wednesday in all 20 Udon Thani districts, he said.

Meanwhile, Kwanchai said that though the breakfast was a good start, true reconciliation would take time and cooperation from all sides, while PDRC leader Danut Tantherdthit said he was waiting to see what the authorities wanted to do next as a follow-up.

Interior Ministry deputy permanent secretary Panadda Diskul, who is acting PM's Office permanent secretary, said provincial authorities that failed to prevent anti-coup gatherings would not be penalised, and that reconciliation campaigns had been received well in several provinces, including Udon Thani and Ubon Ratchathani, both strongholds of pro-Thaksin Shinawatra red shirts.

When asked if NCPO chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha would use Government House as his future office, as speculated by the media, Panadda said: "He told me he was not the prime minister."


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