Thaksin 'ready' for talk, but not Prayut

Thaksin 'ready' for talk, but not Prayut
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha

BANGKOK - Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday rejected a call for him to have talks with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as part of the efforts to achieve national reconciliation.

Thaksin, however, has said he is ready for such talks, a Pheu Thai Party source said yesterday. The ex-PM's only condition was that he wanted to talk to someone with the power to make decisions, so that any agreement reached can be put into practice, the source said.

"Thaksin has been fooled many times already. Such talks often failed in the past, so he wants people with actual power to talk with him," the source said.

Thaksin wants the country to be peaceful and to move forward, the source said.

Prayut said that as a state official, he was not permitted by law to meet with someone wanted by the authorities for legal prosecution. And he would be unable to send anyone else to meet Thaksin on his behalf, as that also was against the law.

"I can't talk with anyone wanted by law. It's because I am a state official," he said. He was referring to the offence of dereliction of duty."Don't forget that Khun Thaksin has legal problems. Do you think I can talk to him?"

Prayut was responding to questions from a reporter in response to a suggestion by National Reform Council (NRC) member Wanchai Sornsiri for him to meet the ex-PM as part of the efforts to achieve reconciliation.

Thaksin has been in self-exile overseas since fleeing the country in 2008, just before the Supreme Court sentenced him in absentia to two years in jail for abuse of power.

Prayut said all people who have fled the country who want national reconciliation should return to Thailand and re-enter the justice process. For him, Thaksin could take part in the reconciliation process by returning and contesting the cases against him.

He said he had reiterated many times that nobody should stay above the law and laws should be applied fairly to everyone.

Prayut said it would be difficult for him to explain to Thais throughout the country why an amnesty should be given to certain political figures who broke the law.

The PM is also leader of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the junta that took power after the coup last May.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said yesterday that it was not the PM's duty to have talks with Thaksin.

"The prime minister's duty is to make sure the law is enforced," he said.

Prawit, who is also defence minister, said the National Reform Council had the duty to encourage reconciliation and should do whatever it sees fit to achieve that goal.

"The NRC may hold talks if that's necessary; we are ready to help. I think Khun Thaksin is also ready.

"General Prayut has repeatedly asked him to come back. The NRC should do whatever is necessary to achieve reconciliation," he said.

Prawit said he had never had talks with Thaksin while overseas.

Anek Laothamatas, a member of the Constitution Drafting Committee, voiced support to the idea of talks between Prayut and Thaksin. But he said there should also be talks between the PM and other parties. Anek has pushed for a pardon or amnesty for people in political conflicts who broke the law as part of the reconciliation process.

Meanwhile, NRC member Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, who is spokesman for the Constitution Drafting Committee, said he thought the chance of Prayut talking to Thaksin was very slim.

Thaksin, however, has said he is ready for such talks, a Pheu Thai Party source said yesterday. The ex-PM's only condition was that he wanted to talk to someone with the power to make decisions, so that any agreement reached can be put into practice, the source said.

"Thaksin has been fooled many times already. Such talks often failed in the past, so he wants people with actual power to talk with him," the source said.

Thaksin wants the country to be peaceful and to move forward, the source quoted him as saying.

Anek Laothamatas, a member of the Constitution Drafting Committee, voiced support to the idea of talks between Prayut and Thaksin.

But he said there should also be talks between the PM and other parties. Anek has pushed for a pardon or amnesty for people in political conflicts who broke the law as part of the reconciliation process.

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