Bangkok, the 29th of May 2010 [PDN]: In an attempt to give foreign governments and organisation a better understanding of Thailand’s political situation, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva briefed a congregation of envoys from 76 countries along with 30 international organisations and 16 foreign chambers of commerce on Saturday.
At the conference, Abhisit explained his governments ‘three step plan’ to national reconciliation and recovery, following the recent two month long anti-government protests which ended in a violent and destructive fashion on May 19th.
Premier Abhisit revealed that an his government were in the process of setting up an independent committee to investigate the cause of the recent unrest in the capital which will run alongside the National Anti-Corruption Commissions (NACC) investigation, requested by the opposition party last week.
In relation to the violent confrontations between Red Shirt protesters and security forces, premier Abhisit revealed that it was his belief that only a small minority of ‘terrorist’ were involved in the attacks on military and police personnel. He also continued to maintain that his government acted in line with international standards in dealing with terrorists.
According to the Prime Minister, new laws are currently being drafted in regards to rallying in public places which will highlight changes in arms control and the role of police in dealing with such situations. These drafts are expected to be presented to the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.
Following the conclusion of the rally in the heart of Bangkok’s CBD, large numbers of military and police weapons were found stashed at the main rally site, weapons that the government states, “were being held by persons not entitled to hold them.” Premier Abhisit maintains that no loss of life would have occurred had these weapons not been present and used.
Mr. Abhisit acknowledged to the international gathering that social and economical divisions still exist within the Thai community and that a clear, transparent and efficient government was the only way that these problems can be solved. “Everybody needs to work together to solve the problem, the parliamentary system will become the key institution to manage the problems that exist within our society,” stated premier Abhisit.
Although not ruling out early election altogether, Mr. Abhisit did mention to the congregation that election this year would be unlikely and counterproductive given the current state of Thailand’s, economic, social and political affairs. He did state however that he was willing to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections should Thailand’s reconciliation plan ‘progress’ smoothly.
Interestingly, talk of fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s return to the Kingdom to face terrorism charges and an already instated 2-year prison sentence was rife. Premier Abhisit revealed once again that he believed Mr. Thaksin to be a major problem, who was obstructing national reconciliation with his attempts to be “above the law.”
Thaksin, currently thought to be residing in Montenegro, is now wanted on a string of terrorism charges for his alleged financial backing of the recent anti-government rallies and the ensuing violence and destruction that emerged as a result.
Thailand is currently in talks with the Montenegrin government over plans to extradite the fugitive leader back to Thailand, however; as Thaksin currently holds both Thai and Montenegrin citizenship, extradition is believed to be an invalid course of action.
Thaksin himself has strenuously denied any involvement in the violent clashes, stating that he was merely an observer and iconic figure to the United Front for Democracy over Dictatorship (UDD) given that the party was largely established by former members of the now defunct Thai Rak Thai political party to which Thaksin was leader.
Although Thaksin was evidently in continuous communication with Red Shirt leaders over the course of the 2-month rally, it is unknown what the contents of these discussions were and or if any monetary assistance was forthcoming. No clear evidence of any financial transactions, conversations or written instructions has been presented by the Thai government or investigative organisations, significantly helping to add to the conjecture relating to Thaksin’s involvement in the current political turmoil.