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Asean Affairs  1 December 2010

Is this a real move to reconcile?

By  David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs     1 December 2010

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Since the tragic end of the red shirt protests on May 19, when lives were lost and about 40 arson attacks occurred on private and government buildings, there has been an effort under way to reconcile Thailand’s opposing political forces.

The effort has been low-key with three government committees working on recommendations to accomplish reconciliation on various issues. But today’s news may signal a break in the ice. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is preparing for talks with red- and yellow-shirt leaders, as both groups plan to organise political rallies this month, acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said on Wednesday.

The red shirt group was behind the two-month siege of Bangkok this year and the yellow shirt group occupied Suvarnabhumi airport in 2009. The red shirt group supports the return of fugitive prime minister,Thaksin Shinawatra, while the yellow shirts are conservative supporters of Thailand’s monarchy.

The prime minister’s move comes as both groups plan to have rallies later in December. Most of the red shirt leaders that led the two-month siege are in jail awaiting trial on terrorism charges, so presumably Mr. Abhisit will have to meet with other leaders.

Proceedings have also started against the yellow shirt leaders, but they have moved more slowly than the response to the red shirts.

The face to face effort by the prime minister is surely welcomed by most Thai people to lead the country out of a difficult year.


Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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