Battle in Bangkok not over yet

Thailand’s anti-government
protesters have welcomed the government’s roadmap to reconciliation but they
have not yet announced when they will end their protest.

Prime
Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva proposed holding new
elections on 14 November in exchange for the Red Shirt
protesters, many of them from the rural poor, dismantling the camp they have
set up in the middle of the Thai capital.

The standoff and related clashes
have killed 27 people, wounded almost 1,000 and further polarized a country
that has seen a string of chaotic political protests over the past five years.

The Red Shirt leaders “unanimously”
welcomed the reconciliation process,” said Veera Musigapong, a protest
leader.

However, the protesters said they
had no plans to leave the streets until all details of the plan were clarified.

“We’re staying, but if an
agreement could be reached easily and with stability, then I think soon we will
leave,” said Weng Tojirakarn, a protest leader.

The protesters said they wanted
Abhisit to commit to a date for dissolving Parliament
ahead of the election. That date could help determine the future balance of
power in the country because a reshuffle of top military posts is to take place
in September and the party in power could influence the outcome.

Weng said the Red Shirts would wait
for a reply from Abhisit before making any further decisions.

The government had no immediate
response.

“It’s too soon, we need to
make sure we understand the full context and take our accounts before we have
the appropriate response,” said government spokesman Panithan Wattanayagorn.

Abhisit has said he would proceed
with the reconciliation plan even if the protesters reject it, but in that case
he could not set a date for the elections.

The five-point plan calls for
respect for the monarchy, reforms to solve economic injustices, free but
responsible media to be overseen by an independent watchdog agency, independent
investigations into violence connected with the protests and amending the
constitution to make it more fair to all political parties.

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