After a day of relative political silence due to coronation day and thus a public holiday on Wednesday, the battle of words broke out again on Thursday as the red shirts as well as the PAD (the yellow shirts) have voiced their doubts or rejection of Abhisit’s ‘roadmap to reconciliation’ offer.
Whilethe prime minister was able to get support by his own Democrat Party and also the coalition partners, even the opposition Puea Thai Party, this week, the biggest opponent of the ‘roadmap’ were of all groups were those that have paved his way to power in the first place. In a press conference, the so-called People’s Alliance for Democracy (the yellow shirts) have heavily condemned Abhisit for giving the red shirts “a shameful deal which will spawn the growth of terrorist and anti-monarchy activities nationwide,” and he should either stop it or else resign. Even a meeting between Abhisit and PAD representatives hours after these statements has not resolved any doubt.
Prime Minister Abhisit promised the PAD not to grant amnesty to any persons or join hands with the opposition Pheu Thai Party to form a new government after an election, said PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan.
The PAD has its own New Politics Party (NPP) but Panthep said they did not discuss party matters with the prime minister (…)
Abhisit explained he would not dissolve Parliament for a new election (…) [and] would not amend the constitution for the benefit of politicians or his own Democrat Party, Panthep said.
Both sides did not reach common ground yesterday because they did not negotiate adjusting their stance but just simply exchanged views, said PAD leader Pipop Thongchai.
(…) Abhisit said after the meeting he needed to clear the way with all concerned parties on the implementation of the road map. He would meet Dr Tul Sittisomwong, leader of multicoloured group today, to exchange views as the group remained in disagreement with the plan to dissolve the Parliament.
“Roadmap still in balance“, The Nation, May 7, 2010
As if they were still not impressed, the PAD emphasized again after the meeting with Abhisit that “snap poll might cause a vacuum of power, causing the civil servants to neglect to prosecute the terrorist suspects and the anti-monarchists” and that the time frame until November is an “insufficient time to restore normalcy ahead of the fresh election.” (Source) And as if they did not make themselves clear enough, the PAD has called for martial law to be invoked, so that the army can ‘finally’ clean up.
Meanwhile in the red camp, the leaders of the UDD are still waiting for more concessions from the government, or “more sincerity” in their words, despite a qualified nod to the ‘roadmap’. The main point is when the red shirt protesters are (finally) packing their bags and are going home. The Democrats and Abhisit insist that the reds do that before anything happens, but on Thursday red leader Nattawut was still in a defiant mood.
Red Shirt Co-leader Nuttawut Saikua said Thursday the red shirts would still continue their occupation at the Rajprasong intersection unless Prime Minister Abisit Vejjajiva comes up with a final solution from all parties about the reconciliation. (…)
“Now that the PAD wants to the Prime Minister to step down from his post, we are confused as they have the agenda like ours. So PM should clear with the PAD first and also seek approvals from the coalition parties about the reconciliation first. When all matters are cleared, PM can bring the final solution to us. As for now, we will continue to stay here,” said Nuttawut.
“Red shirts will continue to rally: Nuttawut“, The Nation, May 6, 2010
On Friday things looked a bit different as there was another meeting of the red leaders. One of the them, Kwanchai Praipana, jumped the gun and hinted that Monday would be the last day of the protests. However…
The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship on Friday reaffirmed its intention to join Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s road map for reconciliation but stopped short of saying when to end the rally.
Speaking after more than two hours of meeting of core members, Nathawut Saikua said the UDD was firm on its intention to take part in a reconciliation plan initiated either by the government or any other organisations which adhere to seeking a peaceful resolution to the political conflict. However, he said the meeting had not reached a decision when to end the rally, which started from Mar 12.
UDD leaders would on Saturday hold another meeting to mete out its conditions for further talks with the government. The UDD would consider when to end the rally if the government responded positively to the conditions yet to be made and ensure safety for the protesters, Mr Nathawut said. He called for the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) to stop intimidating the protesters.
“UDD says it will join reconciliation road map“, Bangkok Post, May 7, 2010
Natthawut said the red shirts would today [Saturday] propose to the government their own version of the road map. One of the conditions is the government lift the emergency law. “If the government agrees, the protest will be over, and we’ll walk together [towards reconciliation],” Natthawut said yesterday. Responding to the red-shirt condition, Prime Minister Abhisit said he would not end enforcement of the emergency law until the situation eased and the red-shirt protest was over.
“Road map gets red boost“, The Nation, May 8, 2010
One of the other key points of the statement Friday evening is the emphasis that they do not seek amnesty from terrorist and lèse majesté charges. The Department of Special Investigation is on the case and have already charged nine of the red shirt leaders.
If they turn themselves in on May 15 as promised, all nine leaders of the Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship will be immediately charged with terrorism and other crimes, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) said yesterday. Director general Tharit Phengdit said the nine leaders could be released temporarily on bail or face “confidential measures” prepared by the DSI if they failed to surrender on the date earmarked.
The DAAD [or UDD] leaders’ alleged crimes are divided into four categories: terrorism, intimidating officials, assaulting state officials and the public, as well as possessing war weapons. The DSI is only relying on the arrest warrants issued under the Emergency Decree, he added. (…)
“Their charges will only be revoked if they are given lawful amnesty as agreed upon by the government and the Parliament,” Tharit said. “The amnesty must stipulate specifically what crimes they will be pardoned for and which crimes would need to be further processed.”
Tharit said he was leading a separate DSI investigation into anti-monarchy issues and the probe would begin next week.
“DSI waiting for red-shirt leaders to surrender“, The Nation, May 7, 2010
And that is, unusual for Thai crime fighting authorities, the last statement of the DSI we are going to hear from them on this case for some time.