With 3 updates: Talk of talks

17 05 2010

Reports are in the Bangkok media of possible talks. The Bangkok Post says this:

A telephone call from Korbsak Sabhavasu, the prime minister’s secretary-general, to Natthawut Saikua prompted the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship leaders to hold an urgent meeting, according to television reports.

The meeting began shortly after 3pm, the deadline given by the government for protesters to leave Ratchaprasong.

Most of the protesters remained at the rally site despite the deadline although they looked tense on seeing a government leaflet dropped from helicopters warning them to immediately leave the area.

On receiving the call from Mr Korbsak, UDD leaders went inside a portable container for a meeting.

Meanwhile, acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation would hold a meeting at 5pm to discuss steps to be taken to retake the occupied area after the 3pm deadline.

He declined to go in to detail, saying only that priority would be given to evacuating children and the elderly from the rally site. Mr Panitan said Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was still in high spirits and determined to overcome all problems.

It is indeed pleasing to know that Abhisit is happy and well as the death and injury toll increases.

The Post also says that Thaksin Shinawatra has called for more talks:

Ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra called on the government and his red-shirt supporters Monday to step back from a “terrible abyss” and start talks to end civil violence.

“I stand with my countrymen in this terrible hour in our history,” Thaksin said in a statement.

“The pictures that I have seen go beyond any nightmares that could have been envisaged. I have no choice but to state resolutely the need for all sides to step back from this terrible abyss and seek to begin a new, genuine and sincere dialogue between the parties,” he said.

“The present action of the government dishonour our history and will forever weaken our institutions and democracy.”

… Abhisit’s government has accused Thaksin of inciting unrest in the capital from overseas.

The Reds called Sunday for UN-mediated talks to end street clashes in the heart of the Bangkok that have left at least 35 people dead since Friday, but the government rejected the idea, saying it was an internal matter.

Thaksin called for the United Nations “to immediately engage to act as facilitator for this negotiation.”

He added: “That organisation should not allow itself to be silenced by a prime minister who failed to understand that a right to life is a core universal value that unites us all as one.”

Update 1: The BBC is reporting that a response from red shirts calling for more talks has been met by the statement that they must call off the rally first.

Update 2: The Bangkok Post reports that the red shirt leadership is prepared to accept “Senate Speaker Prasopsuk Boondej’s offer to mediate truce talks with the government…”.

With more than 37 are dead, the report is that “Natthawut Saikua …  said that the UDD accepted the offer and wanted to urgently end the ongoing violence, and had called on the government to stop shooting at the protesters. The UDD was unconditionally ready to negotiate.  However, senators who would mediate the talks must not include members of the group of 40 pro-government senators, he said. Mr Nathawut said the UDD had left it to Mr Prasopsuk to coordinate with the government for talks.”

Update 3: Same response from the government, at least according to the BBC: no negotiations until the rally ends….


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