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December 24, 2008

Thai PM vows to bring country out of political, economic morass
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Tuesday he will lead his country into the future, instead of struggling with political divisions of the recent past, reported Kyodo news agency.

In an interview with Japanese media in Thailand, Abhisit said the events in Thailand since the ousting of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a bloodless coup in September 2006 affected people's confidence in terms of politics and the economy and it needs to be put behind as quickly as possible.

He added his government will implement a reconciliation policy as a priority to restore political and economic confidence.

"I think about the keys to restore stability, confidence in the government to achieve reconciliation among groups in Thailand. I want to do that through providing justice...I will push for a process of political reform where all sides can participate," he said.

Abhisit said his government will prove that it "serves all Thais," not just favored groups.

"If we could get to work and prove that we are here to work for everybody, it will help to heal some of the division," he said.

Regarding Thaksin, Abhisit said the Thai people should move beyond the Thaksin issue and Thaksin himself should come back to prove his innocence via judicial process.

As well as Thaksin and his loyalists, the new Thai premier vowed that the leaders of the antigovernment People's Alliance for Democracy will be brought to justice as well for occupying government buildings and shutting down two Bangkok airports for nearly 10 days in late November and early December.

In a related story, Reuters reported that Thai government plans to spend 200 billion baht ($5.8 billion) early next year to boost the sagging economy and prop up falling commodities prices.

"Our economic measures will come out after our speech to parliament," he told reporters after his first cabinet meeting. "They will cover all sectors -- agriculture, employment, tourism and business. They are all urgent tasks," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Tuesday.

Abhisit is due to deliver his maiden speech to parliament on December 29, and is constitutionally barred from revealing details of his policies before then.

"The economic package will be clear in the first or second week of January and requires about 200 billion baht," he told a television station on Monday.

Abhisit, who cobbled together a shaky multi-party coalition after the previous administration was sacked by the courts, has pledged to stick to his predecessors' plans to raise spending for the first of the year by 100 billion baht to stimulate flagging growth.

Thai exports fell sharply in November, their first monthly drop in more than five years, due to a crippling airport blockade and falling demand in the face of a global economic crisis.

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