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Top bureaucrats say vote won't end strife; call for talks

A meeting of permanent secretaries of all 20 ministries, or those equivalent to them, yesterday reached an agreement on the bureaucracy's stance on the anti-government rally - that an election alone would not be able to cope with the ongoing political conflict in the heavily-divided Thai society.

"The current political conflict cannot be dealt with through a normal political process or an election.

The meeting has agreed that all sides involved in

the conflict should jointly consult to seek a way out, through peaceful measures before the next election is held, and commit themselves, through a social contract, to find out how the country should be reformed con-cretely to solve all problems in the long run," said the meeting's Statement Number 3, which was released yesterday.

The top officials met at a government office in a Nonthaburi venue to discuss a key agenda - what roles the bureaucracy should take and what it must do and must not do, as the unsolved situation continued. This agreement was regarded as a final stance that would benefit all sides.

Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Narong Sahametapat reportedly commented that the normal political process and reform must go ahead side by side,

not independently.

The meeting also agreed that the constitutional monarchy best suited Thailand. It made a vow, on behalf of all government officials, to perform its duties honestly and with integrity, based on His Majesty’s guidelines and to the country's benefit.

The meeting was initiated Monday evening by secretary-general to the Cabinet Ampon Kittiampon, Council of State secretary-general Chukiert Ratanachaichan, and PM’s Office permanent secretary Tongthong Chandransu, who took the meeting minutes and worked out the statement's wording.

The seven key business organisations yesterday agreed they would hold a public forum tomorrow to discuss ways out of the current conflict, including the much-debated political reform.

A press conference on this event is scheduled on the same day at the Queen Sirikit Convention Centre.

Tongthong later clarified Statement Number 3, saying that it did not endorse the idea of a royally-appointed prime minister, and that talks or a reform process could take place before or after the February 2 election. "The bureaucracy is not offering to play a mediator's role, because it is not our duty, and there will be no more such meetings of permanent secretaries," he added.


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