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Yingluck and Suthep urged to nominate 10 mediators

Six independent organisations are calling on caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to nominate 10 individuals each, who can mediate between both sides and help end the political impasse.

Leaders of the six agencies - the Election Commission, National Human Rights Commission, Office of the Ombudsman, National Anti-Corruption Commission, Office of the Auditor-General and National Economic and Social Advisory Council - hope to get a reply from the two sides within a week.

"The big question is which individuals will be acceptable to both?" Election Commission member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn asked, adding that the mass media should also encourage both sides to come up with names.

Somchai said putting differences on the table was the best way forward for the country and the six organisations would only facilitate the creation of a mediation team, comprised of at least five members who are acceptable to both sides and have no specific agenda set in advance.

"Obviously, there can be no negotiation if neither side is willing ... The country has suffered enough and will suffer even more if there are no talks. If they won't come up with nominees, then we can't go any further, which means there are no Thais who can act as mediators … So carry on with the war. We have created a bridge for both sides, but if they won't use it, it's their choice, though they will have to take responsibility if it causes more damage to the country," Somchai said, adding that the public also wanted mediators to be nominated.

The six bodies will send a joint letter to both Yingluck and Suthep today, chief ombudsman Panit Nitithanprapas said, adding that she believed both sides wanted to end the political impasse as the crisis had become "unprecedented" in its magnitude.

"[We're] concerned the damage may go beyond the point of remedy, we need to end the conflict and foster unity," said Panit, who met the press at a conference room at her office. She also cited a recent Dusit Poll that showed most people want both sides to start negotiating.

The group also said any demands found to be against the law or ones that affect the duty of any of the six agencies would not be accepted.

Opas Tepalakul, chairman of the National Economic and Social Advisory Board, said if negotiations were not possible, then a "special process" would be held to end the conflict. He did not elaborate. When asked what would happen if the initiative failed, National Human Rights Commission chairperson Amara Pongsapich said Thai people should have some hope. "We believe we can find [mediators] and will not have to look outside Thailand."

PM's Office Minister Varathep Ratanakorn said the mediators were not as important as the "conditions" of the talks. If the conditions were against the constitution, it would be impossible.

Chulalongkorn political scientist Trakoon Meechai said the proposal to have mediators for talks was just a way to solve problems, but they must not be put under a rug.

Green Politics coordinator Suriyasai Katasila, a member of the People's Democratic Reform Committee, said the situation had gone too far for talks, and the government faced many legal issues. Independent agencies should go back, do their work and strictly observe the law.


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