Abhisit offers to help end crisis

The leader of the Democrat Party yesterday offered to become involved in the efforts to extricate Thailand from the ongoing political impasse and urged the prime minister to join the efforts for the sake of the country.

Abhisit Vejjajiva said that holding a new election as soon as possible, as sought by government politicians, would not help end the conflict as long as there were still millions of people who would not elect any individual candidates or political parties.

He said that in the February election, only 14 million out of 50 eligible voters cast their ballots for individual candidates or political parties.

Abhisit yesterday said caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra should take part in talks with related parties in order to help ease the deadlock so that the country could move forward. He said Yingluck has avoided such talks by arguing she was not the leader of the ruling Pheu Thai Party.

He called on the prime minister to show her sincerity in getting the country out of the political impasse.

"If Yingluck thinks there is a political deadlock and wants to get the country out of this situation, my question is: what does she think should be done? She asked other people to sit down and talk. My question is whether she is ready for such talks?" Abhisit said.

Abhisit, who was Yingluck's predecessor as premier, said it was the duty of all political parties, including his Democrat Party, to help find a solution for the country so that it could move forward.

He said that in a day or two he would propose his idea about solving the problem.

"I would like to talk with the government. If the prime minister is ready to involve the government in the talks, it will not be difficult. An appointment can be made," he said.

Abhisit noted that the latest round of political confrontation has continued for six months and that the prime minister and Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the antigovernment People's Democratic Reform Committee, have failed to reach any accord.

He said the confrontation should not continue until early next month, when the ongoing legal cases against the government could further complicate the conflict and bring increased violence. "We should attempt to find a solution within, say, the next 10 days," Abhisit said.

He added, however, that the effort to find a solution should be based on the principle of righteousness, and not benefitsharing.

Abhisit, who was the opposition leader before dissolution of the House of Representatives last December, was speaking in an interview broadcast on Blue Sky Channel, a proDemocrat and satellitebased television.

Over the past week, there have been attacks and threats against government critics. Among the targets were Dr Narong Sahametapat, permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry, and Dr Rienthong Naenna, the director of Mongkut Wattana General Hospital.

On Tuesday, Abhisit abruptly decided to skip a meeting of political party representatives called by the Election Commission at a Bangkok hotel to discuss the date of a new election. The Democrats cited security concerns for the party leader following a thinlyveiled threat to his life by some redshirt supporters of Pheu Thai Party.

Abhisit said yesterday that he decided not to attend the meeting after intelligence showed there would be an attempt to use violence against him during the meeting.