Political foes told to sign reform pledge

The junta will to ask figures across the political divide to sign an agreement pledging to continue the military's reforms after the next general election.

Lt Gen Kampanat Ruddit, director of the National Council for Peace and Order's (NCPO) Centre for Reconciliation for Reform, announced the plan on the sidelines of a "reconciliation fair" at Sanam Luang yesterday.

He said all political groups would be asked to sign a "social contract" before an election is called, to make sure they push all aspects of the reforms after polling is complete. Representatives of industry will also be asked to sign the pledge.

Lt Gen Kampanat said conflicts between different political camps are close to being resolved. This means the NCPO is nearly ready to enter the second phase of its plan.

This involves implementing a provisional constitution, setting up a national legislative assembly and a reform council, selecting a prime minister and drafting a new constitution, all of which will be done within one year.

Asked whether an amnesty is in the pipeline, Lt Gen Kampanat said that particular issue would be addressed by the reform council.

Scores of political rivals meanwhile attended a ceremony to mark the opening of the reconciliation fair.

The NCPO says the six-day festival will stir national reconciliation efforts.

It will host prayers for peace and happiness from the country's major faith groups, music, cultural performances and a bazaar selling low-priced goods.

Politicians, soldiers and civil servants took part in a merit-making ceremony offering alms to 99 monks.

They included Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, Democrat advisory panelist Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich and former foreign minister Kasit Piromya. People's Democratic Reform Committee co-leader Sathit Wongnongtoey also took part.

They came face to face with several members of the Pheu Thai Party, including former parliament speaker Yongyuth Tiyapairat, and United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship leaders Virakarn Musikapong, Suphon Attawong and Wiphuthalaeng Pattanaphumthai.

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