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Red leaders 'to cooperate further on reconciliation'

IN WHAT appears to be a good sign for reconciliation, the junta says the leaders of all red-shirt groups nationwide have agreed to join a reconciliation forum with the military.

Deputy junta chief Lt-General Kampanart Ruddit, director of the National Reconciliation Centre for Reform, said red-shirt leaders had agreed to join discussion processes for gathering opinions ahead of the setting up of a reform council and a national legislative assembly.

He said his centre hoped to finish reconciliation talks nationwide by August.

In Chiang Mai, red-shirt leader Petchawat Wattanapongsirikul, a former adviser to the Social Development and Human Security minister, ordered his followers in eight upper northern provinces to temporarily suspend political activities, pending the implementation of the National Council for Peace and order (NCPO) 'roadmap'.

He said if the 'roadmap' was fair, the red shirts should stop their movement.

"We have witnessed different political colours because of social disparities. If this problem is solved, the red shirts will stop their movement," he said.

A large picture of Petchawat and ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra has been removed from Petchawat's Chiang Mai hotel, the Warorot Grand Palace.

In Suphan Buri, Maj-General Thiamsak Sukhanuyut, chairman of the Suphan Buri United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and UDD chairman of nine central provinces, announced a decision to quit the political movement, Lt-Colonel Settawut Ammuang said.

He said Thiamsak informed Maj-General Sithi Piyasonthi, deputy director of the Suphan Buri Internal Security Operations Command, that he was washing his hands of politics as his previous political stance may have posed an obstacles to the NCPO's efforts to restore peace and order.

Thiamsak submitted a statement that said he was willing to cooperate and support the NCPO to achieve reconciliation.

In Nakhon Ratchasima, red-shirt leader Sompote Prasartthai said he and other local red-shirt leaders would seek to get people involved in their movement in Muang district to join the reconciliation activities at the 80th Birthday Stadium on Wednesday. Sompote was speaking at a Pheu Thai Party coordination centre.

On that day members of the People's Democratic Reform Committee and rival group the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship will participate in activities at the stadium, he said.

He said he had spoken with other local red shirts and most supported the reconciliation attempts.

NCPO activities aimed at bringing about national reconciliation and dissolving political colours have continued for a second week.

A Reconciliation Centre for Reform (RCR) was established in Tak while people in Bangkok's Taling Chan district yesterday enjoyed a "Return Happiness to the People" fair at Wat Intrawat. The fair was organised by the district office in association with the military.

The event is part of efforts to bring about national reconciliation, led by NCPO chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha. The junta started staging fairs in Bangkok and the provinces last week. In Bangkok, city officials provided free physical check-ups, massages, haircuts and food and drink while military bands performed music for thousands of people.

On Thursday another fair will be held in Thawee Wattana district in the capital.

Further north, Mae Sot district chief Preecha Jaipet announced the setting up of a reconciliation centre for five border districts in Tak province in a bid to solve urgent social and economic problems and bring about national peace and unity.

Meanwhile, the 23rd Military Circle and the Miracle of Life Foundation as well as private agencies teamed up to carrying out reconciliation activities in Khon Kaen's Ban Fang district.

The groups provided poor villagers with two 2,000 litre water containers. Mobile medical teams provided physical check-ups and treatment.

Soldiers brought trucks to supply water to villages facing drought and helped villagers sweep a temple. They advised them to file a complaint with police if any group claimed to be soldiers and tried to search their houses.


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