Latest Development of the Political Situation in Thailand
Government ready to listen to views of all sides to resolve the situation, reaffirms no use of violence against protestors
|March 15, 2010|
On 15 March 2010, at 10.00 hrs., Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, together with representatives of the other government coalition parties, gave a press conference to inform the public of the current situation and the Government's stand. The press conference came after a meeting of all the government coalition partners earlier that morning.
Prime Minister Abhisit reaffirmed that the present Government came to office through parliamentary means under the democratic system. The Government, like the other two preceding it, was elected by a majority vote in the House of Representatives, which was constituted following the elections in December 2007. When taking office, the Government stated that it was determined to carry out the administration of the state, restore the economy in the face of the global crisis, and move the country forward, and this is what it has been working hard to achieve over the past 13 months.
Regarding the 24-hour ultimatum made by the demonstrators demanding the dissolution of the House of Representatives by noon of 15 March, Prime Minister Abhisit said that all the government coalition partners agreed that this could not be done. Nevertheless, the Government stands ready to listen to and exchange views with the demonstrators as well as with the general public in order to work towards solutions on the basis of views from all groups of people. At issue is not whether this Government remains in office or not. Rather, it is the wish, as shared between the Government and all Thais, that Thailand move forward and that the system of governance functions not only now, but also in the longer term. In normal circumstances, the dissolution of the House is a possible political solution when there is a parliamentary crisis. It could also be an option during other severe crises, if it could help resolve them. However, as it has become clear from what protest leaders have said on a number of occasions, dissolving the House and calling for fresh elections is only one of the issues outstanding in the present political conflict, and that there are other issues which go beyond the existence of the present Government. General elections that would bring about peace must be ones the rules of which all sides agree upon, and which take place in a genuinely peaceful environment. These conditions, however, do not yet exist.
All the government coalition partners also agreed to proceed in accordance with the present modus operandi in dealing with the situation, namely, respect for people's constitutional right to peaceful assembly, the use of a special law to maintain peace and order, no initiation of any use of violence towards demonstrators or to disperse demonstrations.
In this connection, the Prime Minister expressed concern over attempts by protest leaders and some groups of persons to incite and instigate confrontation between the demonstrators and the Government, taking the rallies beyond the normal exercise of constitutional rights. In particular, he cited the use of distorted and false information during the speeches by protest leaders, which was aimed at provoking anger or violent emotions among demonstrators so as to instigate conflict between the Government and demonstrators. This included reference made by protest leaders to a sound clip from the April 2009 incident, which had since been proven scientifically many times to have been fabricated and edited. He therefore asked the public to consider the actual conduct of the Government over the past year to see what had actually transpired.
The Prime Minister further reiterated that security officers would exercise utmost restraint and communicate with the public to ensure common understanding on operational matters. Operations carried out would be done in accordance with the law and the Constitution. They would also be implemented transparently with the media able to monitor what is going on. He reassured the public that no violence would come from the Government side.
Finally, Prime Minister Abhisit noted that the Government understands and shares the concerns of the public regarding the present situation, and reaffirmed that the Government would do its best to return the situation back to normalcy as soon as possible without causing any losses. He also reiterated his call for cooperation and understanding from the public.