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Head of development think tank calls for dialogue to resolve political crisis

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

The president of the Thailand Development Research Institute is calling on both sides to resolve the ongoing political impasse through “dialogue and democracy”. In a report in the Bangkok Post, Somkiat Tangkitvanich warns that the situation is reaching a “crisis point” as he lays out his proposals for how both sides can reach an agreement.

A new round of protests started again on the weekend are a short pause in activities following the Thai PM’s speech to the nation, offering a few olive branches to the protesters and asking them to “stand down” in return for rescinding the State of Emergency, after having it in force for the past 7 days. The protesters largely ignored the laws forbidding gatherings of more than 5 people.

Today an emergency session starts at the national parliament with an emergency joint sitting to discuss the political conflict. There is also a rally proposed for this afternoon where protesters will march from Sam Yan intersection to the German Embassy in Sathorn Road. Government supporters and “royalists”, most likely clad in their yellow uniforms (showing their loyalty to the Thai monarchy), are saying they will assemble at Lumpini Park, right in the middle of this afternoon’s march route.

Posting on Facebook, Somkiat Tangkitvanic points out that the country is currently divided politically, partly based on their age, which he says is still preferable to being split by religious or racial differences. He adds that each side still needs to live alongside the other and that “the only way out of the current impasse is through dialogue”.

“For many Thais, the main question is what kind of political and governing system we should have and how the Monarchy should play a role. Many have expressed their own opinions, and it is obvious there are still huge differences. Whatever happens, we will still continue to co-exist in Thailand and we cannot expel or get rid of the side just because they hold different opinions.”

One of Somkiat’s suggestions is to use the House of Representatives and the parliamentary process to find a solution in the first instance. If this fails, the next step would be to hold a referendum and allow the people to decide. In the event of a referendum, each side should have equal opportunity to argue their case without intimidation, so that voters can make a fully informed decision.

He adds that, in addition to the formal process, a mediator acceptable to both sides could chair informal talks between them, but warns that these should not be held publicly, in order to avoid pressurising negotiators into a corner where they’re unable to change their stance.

“In order for both sides to work together and learn to trust each other, the government must release everyone currently being held on politically-related charges and listen to what they have to say.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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