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Will Thaksin heed Prayuth's call for all sides to reconcile?

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is taking another major step towards national reconciliation efforts with a series of events at Sanam Luang, beginning today until Sunday.

This will be the NCPO's first major event since it launched the "Festival for Returning Happiness" in Bangkok and other provinces after the May 22 coup with free musical performances by various artists, including soldiers, and free medical services by mobile teams from military-linked healthcare experts.

The six-day event at Sanam Luang aims to mobilise efforts to achieve national reconciliation, to facilitate the next phase of the NCPO's mission - national reform.

Banphot Poonpien, spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), stated that the festival would be another step to show that the situation in Thailand was back to normal. The Isoc has been assigned by the NCPO to help create unity in Thai society. The junta has tried to ensure that a mood of reconciliation permeates the air.

Even a key player in the recent political conflict like former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been allowed to fly out of Thailand today on a leisure trip overseas.

Last week, the NCPO gave permission to Yingluck and her son to travel abroad until August 10, even as the National Anti-Corruption Commission decided unanimously to seek criminal indictment of the former premier for alleged dereliction of duty for allowing massive losses in controversial rice-pledging scheme.

So the oft-asked question is, will Yingluck return to Thailand? And who would be held responsible if Yingluck chooses to abscond?

A Nida Poll found that half the people surveyed backed the junta's decision to let Yingluck leave the country for a short trip to Europe, but opinions were split on whether she would actually return.

At a press conference, in reaction to the NACC demand to indict her, Yingluck made it clear that she was not fleeing the country and would return to fight the accusations. Yingluck will reportedly attend a birthday party for her brother, the former premier Thaksin, in Paris during her trip.

But will she spring a surprise and do the unthinkable by returning home with her brother, a fugitive from justice?

NCPO chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said during his weekly televised address last Friday night that he wanted to see everybody join hands to solve the problems of the country. He warned that if Thais do not deal with these pressing issues, the conflict would return to haunt the country for a long time.

The country has been wracked by almost a decade of intense political division with repeated outbreaks of violence.

During his speech, the Army chief said he had invited someone living abroad, who he did not name, to return to Thailand and promised fair treatment by the NCPO.

Very significantly, he said he believed Thai people would forgive each other. When that was possible, why should Thai people continue to fight each other, when we should be joining hands to lead our country to a better future?

This could have been a signal from the NCPO to give an opportunity to every party in this conflict to join in the reconciliation move and resolve differences.


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