Abhisit open to talks with Shinawatras

The Democrat Party leader is open to talks with caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and even with her fugitive brother next week, but the meeting should be broadcast live.

After talks with election commissioners this week, Mr Abhisit is ready to meet with representatives from the caretaker government and he is free to do so on Wednesday to Friday, said party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut on Saturday.

It will be good if Ms Yingluck could meet him then and even better if the session is broadcast live to minimise the chances of the meeting being used by the followers of the two sides to discredit each other.

Mr Abhisit is also open to talking with Thaksin Shinawatra if the former PM can join the broadcast session with his sister through web-conferencing services such as Skype.

Mr Abhisit will focus on persuading all sides to make sacrifices to avoid confrontations and ease political conflicts, Mr Chavanond said.

He thanked caretaker Labour Minister Chalerm Yubamrung for his offer to join the talks but said a meeting with Ms Yingluck is more appropriate at the time.

Asked about Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), who had made clear a middleman of any kind was not welcomed, Mr Chavanond said he was confident Mr Suthep did not refer to Mr Abhisit.

"This is because Mr Abhisit is not a middleman. He's just floating the country's solutions. Ms Abhisit affirms he would go ahead with meeting all sides to break the impasse," Mr Chavanond said.

Meanwhile, Anusorn Iamsa-ard, a deputy Pheu Thai Party spokesman, said Mr Abhisit's move was in line with speculations that the wild card in the next phase of political conflict was the ruling of the Constitutional Court in early May on the prime minister status in the Thawil Pliensri transfer case.

It will prove the sincerity of Mr Abhisit and the anti-government networks and be the litmus test on how strongly they could or would stand up to Mr Suthep.

Eventually, Mr Abhisit's efforts will likely be defeated not by the Pheu Thai party but by his allies because the key to the problems lies not with the Pheu Thai party.

Mr Anusorn said so far several sides had used the "ram wong model" where all sides arrange talks with whomever and whenever an opportunity presents itself.

Mr Abhisit is the latest to join the fray. However, this strategy takes time.

For its part, the Pheu Thai party proposed a four-step "shortcut".

First, all political parties must sign a memorandum. It does not matter whether they will run the next election but they must pledge not to incite their networks to obstruct or disrupt the polls. If any party is found to break this vow, they should face a party disbanding penalty.

Second, laws must be enforced strictly. All people disrupting elections must be arrested and punished, not just their leaders.

Third, the EC must do its duty more seriously. It must do its best to hold and manage the election by coordinating with security officials. If any party is found to have broken election laws, it should be disbanded. Performance indicators should be set and any commissioner failing to meet them should resign.

Fourth, the winning party who forms the next government must pledge to implement reforms, revise election rules so that they are acceptable to all sides, and set 12-18 months or any period agreed by all sides before they dissolve parliament and hold a fresh election after the reforms and revised rules are put in place.

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