Thai protesters spurn reconciliation panel plan to ease tensions

The Thai parliament is setting up a committee to discuss the demands of the protesters. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG) - Thai pro-democracy activists rejected a parliament-initiated plan to form a reconciliation committee, calling it a "political ploy to buy time," and reiterated the demand for the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The Thai parliament is setting up a committee to discuss the demands of the protesters in a bid to ease political tensions and restart the stalled process for charter amendment later this month.

However, the protest groups said in a statement on Wednesday (Nov 04) that those steps would be meaningless if Mr Prayut clung to power.

"Such committees won't be able to come up with any solutions because in reality Prayut is the biggest obstacle," according to the statement read out at a briefing in Bangkok.

"All of the problems can't be resolved if Prayut doesn't quit."

The protesters have spurned Prayut's request to use parliamentary process to resolve their demands, which also include a rewriting of the constitution and more accountability and transparency from the monarchy.

The youth-led protest groups have held almost daily demonstrations in Bangkok and other cities for three weeks, triggering counter rallies by pro-royalist groups opposed to any reform of the monarchy.

Prayut, a former army chief who took power in a 2014 coup, kept his premiership after elections in 2019 with the help of charter rules written under his military government and the junta-appointed Senate.

Pro-democracy groups said parliament should vote on a new prime minister whose role should be limited to charter amendment, adding that the Senate must be kept out of the process.

Prayut, who has repeatedly rejected calls to quit, signed a draft law on Wednesday for the parliament to deliberate a referendum for charter amendment.

The premier has said that he's open to changing parts of the constitution and taking away Senate power to elect prime ministers.

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