BANGKOK – The continuing political unrest should be resolved from the bottom up rather than by putting the entire burden on the country’s administrators, says the national army chief.
“People across the country are inciting violence and are on the verge of killing each other. The public should be thinking about holding sub-regional peace talks instead of pressuring those at the top to come up with answers,” Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters on Friday.
“Red-shirts, yellow-shirts and other political groups need to come together and peacefully discuss the things that each of them thinks are wrong and illegitimate and then jointly find solutions to depolarise the country.”
He made the comments after attending a Defence Council meeting and having lunch with caretaker prime minister and defence minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Asked whether he had given any advices to Ms Yingluck, he replied that it was not the army’s duty to do so.
Anti-government protesters are pressing for the Feb 2 general election to be postponed until reforms take place.
Gen Prayuth did not address that issue directly but said that not every state agency or sector needed to be reformed in accordance with political movements. If everyone waited on top policymakers and administrators to act, then nothing would be done, he added.
Changes that can be made quickly should be implemented right away and those that require more time should be put on hold for later, he said.
He said the army’s only involvement with the polls would be to deploy troops to help keep order outside buildings.
Meanwhile, The Election Commission (EC) announced today to go ahead with a snap poll on February 2 amid escalating calls for national reform before such an election.
EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen said after meeting with caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that the EC did not offer to mediate among different factions in light of political conflicts.
He said the prime minister and election commissioners agreed that an election is essential and should be held fairly but the EC would not give its opinions whatsoever.
Five election commissioners share the same opinions on an election and would not suggest a public forum to discuss the issue, he said.
He said Ms Yingluck inquired if the election budget would be sufficient and wanted to ensure safety and conveniences to voters on the election day.
Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, one of the election commissioners, said different quarters in society should jointly resolve the political tension with dialogues.
The prime minister promised to do her best to solve the problem and said she has been aware of the people’s sentiment, he said.
Touching on the proposal by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) for a “people’s council”, he suggested that for such system to work, its core members must not be part of the council – Bangkok Post