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 17 Apr 2009

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Thai Houses to meet to find way out of political turmoil

The Thai parliament will convene a joint session next week to find a solution to political rifts that put Bangkok under a state of emergency for a fifth day, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was quoted by Kyodo news agency as saying Thursday.

"I don't want to see any Thai doing anything, clandestinely or otherwise, that will hurt the country. I believe that most of the demonstrators, almost all of them, were not ill-intended," the premier told a news conference at Government House, which had been under siege by antigovernment protesters since March 26.

Abhisit said he expects members from the upper and lower house to meet Wednesday and Thursday next week to publicly debate the recent mishaps that have forced him to impose the law empowering the military to restore public order.

Abhisit said the freedom of peaceful and nonviolent assembly will be restored after the state of emergency is lifted. He did not specify how long the state of emergency will be in place, but he said the legislative mean is necessary while people are still under Thai traditional New Year holidays, or the Songkran festival.

Earlier Thursday, local media reported a few hundred Thai Muslims sent a petition to the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Bangkok to urge the sultanate state to stop allowing former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to reside in the country.

They accused Thaksin of instigating riots Monday which also included vandalism at a mosque in central Bangkok.

Thaksin, who fled the country last August shortly before the court sentenced him for violating conflict of interest rules, often made telephone calls and video links to address his supporters staging protests against Abhisit's government.

The Thai government put Thaksin on a wanted list on grounds that he and other leaders, united under the banner of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship, were in alleged collaboration to instigate unrest that has led to the imposition of the state of emergency.

Bangkok announced Wednesday that Thaksin's ordinary passport had been revoked. Local media in Dubai reported he flew out of there late Wednesday. On Thursday, AFP reported that Nicaragua, a Central American country, had given a diplomatic passport to Thaksin. However, a local newspaper Matichon in an online news story quoted a letter from Nicaragua embassy in Mexico to Thai embassy issued on April 15 as saying that the report (of Nicaragua issuing a passport to Thaksin) was unfounded. 




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