Thailand’s army chief invited both sides of the kingdom’s bitter political divide to talks on Tuesday, hours after imposing martial law following nearly seven months of anti-government protests.
“We are in the process of inviting both sides to talk but at the minute the situation is still not normal… that’s why I have had to invoke martial law,” General Prayut Chan-O-Cha told reporters.
The Nation with details of the attendees at today’s meeting:
The UDD’s other representatives include Nuttawut Saikuar, Veerakarn Musikapong, Korkaew Pikulthong and Thida Thawornset.
Abhisit’s team is composed of deputy leaders; Jurin Laksanavisit, Nipit Indharasombat, and Chamni Sakdiset and secretary general Juti Krairiksh.
Pheu Thai : deputy leader Viroj Pao-in, secretary general Bhumtham Vejchai, spokesman Prompong Nopparit, committee members; Chusak Sirinil and Wan Nur Muhammad.
PDRC : Suthep Thaugsuban, Satit Wongnongtaey, Akanat Prompan, Sombat Thamrongtunyawongse and Somsak Kosaisuk
BP: Acting Caretaker PM was absent…
On the outcome of the meeting. DW:
“The army chief asked us to go back home and think about the things we discussed in order to find a solution for the country,” Puchong Nutrawong, secretary-general of the Election Commission, told the Reuters news agency. Puchong added that the group would meet again on Thursday.
The Bangkok Post:
After more than two hours of talks at the Army Club, the meeting brokered by Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha ended with at least one positive sign.
“All conflicting parties want to see a solution soon. They want to see happiness return as soon as possible,” army spokeswoman Col Sirichan Ngathong said.
They put their stances on the table and will return to the venue in an attempt to thrash out their differences, she said.
BP: Some army spin…..
The Nation on what was discussed:
EC Chairman Supachai Somcharoen said the meeting of all stakeholders in the political conflict held by the Army chief Wednesday did not discuss an idea to have neutral Prime Minister as widely proposed by anti-government protesters and senators.
“When asked whether each group can stop protesting, there was no commitment from either side,” Thida Thawornseth, a leader of the pro-government “red shirt” political group, told Reuters. “There was no clear conclusion.”
Whether all sides could accept an interim prime minister and what reforms could be implemented were also raised at the talks, Thida said.
An army spokesman said all sides would go away to think.
“There was no conclusion. It is as though homework was handed out for each side to work on,” deputy army spokesman Winthai Suvaree told reporters.
BP: Differences in statements whether an interim/neutral PM was discussed…..
“The key going forward will be the military’s role in politics,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. “If they play the role of enforcer of law and order and even mediator … this could be a resolution to the impasse.”
But if they don’t, “we can expect protests and turmoil from the losing side.”
Not everyone is confident in the outcome of the talks. WSJ:
If Gen. Prayuth can’t bring the factions together to break deadlock, he might have little choice but to move beyond the limited remedy of martial law and stage what would be the 19th coup effort the Thai military has undertaken over the past eight decades. “His options have really narrowed. I personally think that the declaration of martial law is a prelude to a coup,” said Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University. “But either way, what really matters is that the military is in charge. I think we might soon see some kind of appointed prime minister.”
“The question is whether the Red Shirts will be willing to go along with negotiations to select an interim prime minister,” said Panitan Wattanayagorn, a professor at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University and a member of a previous army-backed government. “The military is…betting that the players will negotiate. To do that, they have to back that up with credible force. If the Red Shirts don’t go along with the plan, the military might have to do more. That could bring more trouble for Thailand.”
BP: This is an interesting way of framing it by Panitan. There has been a clear push for a while for a “neutral” PM with Thai Rath today mentioning that some Senators have suggested the name of Gen. Prawit (yes, Gen. Prawit one of Suthep’s backers). There are two clear differences of opinion but the talk of compromise is for the red shirts and the government to compromise by allowing an interim PM. If this was only an interim PM (although doubt they will agree to Prawit) and no actual reform undertaken before elections and elections scheduled in a few months, the reds and government may be willing to compromise, but BP doesn’t see this is likely what the Establishment want. All signs so far show they will want a Estalishment figure as interim PM of at least one year and reform before elections which could drag things out longer. There is just a fundamental difference between both sides and this makes compromise hard. Perhaps, the negotiating positions of all sides will be clearer tomorrow on where they are willing to compromise…
Thepthai from the Democrats tweets:
กอ.รส.นัดคู่ขัดแย้งคุยกัน ยังไร้ข้อสรุป และคงไร้ข้อสรุปต่อไป
— Theptai Seanapong (@Theptai) May 21, 2014
BP: Translation “PKCC have a meeting tomorrow; not yet have a conclusion and probably not have a conclusion”….