Monday, April 20, 2009

Thai PM open to amnesty idea

By The Nation

Abhisit, however, rules out pardon for those involved in criminal acts

The government will push for political reform as part of the healing process following the recent political mayhem, although any amnesty would only extend to political offences and not criminal violations for provoking uprisings, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday.

"I remain open-minded about amnesty for political wrongdoing based on what many say are unfair laws, but will definitely draw the line on criminal violations, such as inciting riots," he said. :)

All political parties have been asked to submit their reports within two weeks outlining issues to be covered in the charter rewrite, he said.

Politicians of all stripes should work together to improve the political system instead of casting suspicion on one another, he said.

Before the turmoil, the government tried but made no headway in launching the reform process because opposition lawmakers were doubtful about the political neutrality in selecting the charter writers, he said.

All stakeholders were promised a say in the reform process, he said.

The coalition partners have also been applying pressure on the Abhisit government to embark on amnesty legislation and political reform in order to solidify political stability and prepare for a fresh general election later this year.

This came out of a meeting between Abhisit and key coalition partners at the home of Niphon Phromphan, the secretary to the prime minister.

Spurred into action by the political turmoil, the coalition partners would like the government to work on a pardon for politicians banned by the Constitution Court after their parties were found to have been involved in election fraud.

The meeting agreed that all parties should try to keep the government moving so that the fiscal budget could be passed before any new election is called later this year, probably in September.

Direk Thungphang, a senator from Nonthaburi, said the Senate would convene today to discuss how to end the political impasse and ways to reform the Constitution, which is the root cause of the current crisis.

"We have sent a message to the prime minister that he should not be stubborn in his resolve to tackle political instability. He should aim at rewriting the Constitution,'' he said.

Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan also called on the Abhisit government to accelerate the reconciliation process so that Thailand could successfully host the Asean Summit.

Never before has the Asean Summit with dialogue partners been postponed for political reasons, he said.

The Thai government must invite the ambassadors of the 15 member countries of Asean and its dialogue partners to consult on the new date for the summit, which had to be postponed from the week before due to the red-shirt protests.

Meanwhile, Sondhi Limthong-kul, the target of an assassination attempt last Friday, has been recovering satisfactorily and has been moved out of the ICU unit at Chulalongkorn Hospital.

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