Nattawut dares Suthep to debate him

Caretaker Deputy Commerce Minister and red-shirt co-leader Nattawut Saikuar on Sunday challenged anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to a live debate on TV aimed at clarifying their political positions and causes in a bid to win public support.

The secretary-general of the pro-government United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship issued the challenge a day after Mr Suthep dared the UDD to rally in Bangkok on the same day with the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) demonstrators and see which side would get more supporters.

Mr Suthep said the PDRC would allow the Pheu Thai-led government of Yingluck Shinawatra to continue to rule the country without interfering if it lost, but if it won, Ms Yingluck must step down and her brother and fugitive ex-premier Thakin must stay away from polictics and not hinder reform efforts.

Mr Suthep made his latest challenge to the red shirts after he led tens of thousands of protesters in a march to affirm the group's "reform before election" campaign on Saturday. 

In a message posted on his Facebook page, Mr Nattawut said he would be pleased to accept Mr Suthep’s challenge by inviting him to a live debate on TV so that the general public could listen to the rationale behind the UDD and PDRC movements.

“It’s time to make clear the principles and reasons behind the PDRC’s 'appointing an illegal prime minister’ approach and the UDD’s ‘driving forward democracy’ approach,” he said.

“I want him to take Abhisit to the debate with him, but if his collarbone still hurts, [Suthep] can take another person. Whoever. [UDD chairman] Jatuporn Prompan and I will be waiting - let’s do it from March 31 onward.”

He was referring to Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva who is being treated in hospital for a fracture of the right collarbone after he tripped and fell at his house in Watthana district on Wednesday morning. 

Mr Nattawut said after the debate, he would discuss and conclude with Mr Suthep ways to display shows of force by the UDD and PDRC movements. After that they would prepare their supporters for their respective rallies.

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