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Thai PM says he is seeking political resolution to opposition standoff

April 27th, 2010
01:44 PM ET

(CNN) - Thailand's prime minister said Monday that his government is working to achieve normalcy in the country amid massive opposition protests, but warned it will take "time, patience and cooperation" from all parties involved.

"We recognize that as every day passes by, the people of Thailand suffer, the country suffers, but we want to make sure that there is rule of law," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an interview set to air Tuesday.

"We will try to enforce the law with minimum losses and we will try to find a political resolution, but it takes time, patience and cooperation," he said, speaking from Bangkok. "We will do the best we can and try to move the country forward as soon as possible."

Thousands of anti-government protesters have brought Thailand's capital to a standstill this month as they seek to unseat Abhisit's government, which they say is illegitimate and undemocratic - accusations that Abhisit on Monday called "unfounded."

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The demonstrators - known as "Red Shirts" because of their clothing - support Thaksin Shinawatra, who was prime minister from 2001 to 2006, before he was ousted in a bloodless coup.

Explainer: What are the protests in Thailand about?

Addressing allegations that his government is illegitimate, Abhisit said Monday, "We assumed office under the same means, under the same rules, by the same vote of parliament as the two previous administrations" elected after the coup.

Abhisit emphasized what he described as his government's willingness to find a political solution to the crisis, but said resolution "must come at the right time for the country and serve the interests of everybody."

"We recognize the differences of opinions and we think we should take them forward, but they should be conducted under conditions where there's peace, where people are allowed to express their opinions, and not under force or intimidation by a small group of people," he said.

Abhisit has rejected a call from anti-government protesters to dissolve the country's parliament in 30 days.

iReport: Are you there? Share your story, images

"It just doesn't make sense," he said Monday of the deadline, adding other groups' political opinions must be taken into consideration before any such action is taken.

Some media and analysts in Thailand say civil war may be looming, with another group emerging called the "multi-colored shirts" who are urging the government to take tougher action against the Red Shirts.

Abhisit told Amanpour on Monday that he is concerned about possible civil strife and said "we have been at pains to point out to people who disagree with protesters that they should exercise restraint, and we will do all we can to make sure that no clashes occur between the two groups of people."

More than two dozen civilians and military personnel have died since protesters began occupying key tourism and shopping areas in Thailand's capital.

The deadliest clashes occurred April 10, and Abhisit said Monday that his government would cooperate with investigations into those deaths, "particularly as carried out by the Human Rights Commission, which is a neutral body."

He said the April 10 deaths appear to be caused by a group of people who call themselves "the Men in Black."

"We have a number of clips and evidence to suggest that the Men in Black were operating among the Red Shirt people," Abhisit said. "We have to get to the bottom of that."


Filed under:  Thailand
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Free American

    Your last Sunday's Program was like a Birthday Cake with the icing placed in the last 3 minutes about denying Bar Mitzvah to the Grandson of an Honorable Jewish Judge because of Politics.
    Separation of CHURCH & STATE also includes Separation of Synagogue & State.
    Thank you for exposing the Hypocrates!

    April 27, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Reply
  2. Phil Lumb NZ

    The constitution should be amended. The prime minister and his party should step down and organise a democratic general election,as soon as possible.
    He does not seem to fully realise how much damage is being done to the Thai people and Thai economy.
    I somewhat doubt that he has full control over the police and military.
    The men in black could be from a number of organisations including
    terrorist cells.

    April 27, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Reply
  3. dranon davis

    Specifically what steps has he taken this week, TODAY, to seek a negotiated peaceful solution? We have seen NONE. He has closed censored every TV broadcast, shut down countless radio stations, blocked hundreds of websites under the guise of "incorrect information." His junta partners referred to the demonstrators as Praii, as buffalo, as terrorists and now as a cabal trying to overthrow the King. He never won a single election, he was marched into office after the courts banned all opposition parties while he tossed around massive payoffs to get minor parties to join him in coalition. This is a miserable and violent regime that will not even negotiate a simple human demand: the inalienable right to a democratic franchise on the basis of one person one vote.

    April 28, 2010 at 11:46 am | Reply
  4. Pomjuk Pakwan

    Abhisit was elected as a Member of the Parliament. However his coming to power following the following evens is questionable to say the least.

    1. Military coup d'état in 2006

    2. An abolishment of the 1997 constitution. The military instated a new constitution which dictates that 50% of the senators are to be appointed and 50% will be elected. Under 1997 constitution all senators are to be elected by the people.

    3. Judicial coup d'état which dissolved 3 major political parties and the disbandment of 220 members of the parliament from politic for 5 years.

    4. Nevertheless, the “Puea Thais Party” which is a reassemble of the previously defunct “Thai Rak Thai” and “People Power” parties maintains the highest number of members in the parliament. Two of the Prime Ministers from Puea Thais Party where disbarred one from receiving less than USD 500 for appearing in a TV cooking show and another was forced out by the constitution court following the pressure from the so-called yellow-shirted terrorist organization. The Yellow-shirted terrorists close both of Bangkok commercial airports which so far no one has been charged for the crime.

    5. After the two Prime Ministers from of the Puea Thais Party were ousted. “Puea Thais Party” maintained the majority seats in the Parliament and had the right to yet form another government. At the end of 2008 there was a “parliamentary d'état” where 27 of the Puea Thai Party switched sides. The sum of THB 25 millions was said to be paid to each of the MP who switched sides.

    With those even the red-shirt are questioning the legitimacy of this government and requesting the dissolving of the parliament. By law the new general election will be rescheduled two months after the dissolution of the house of representatives. Abhisit Vejjajiva knowingly that his party: the democrat party has no chance wining the majority votes at the election polls is refusing the dissolution of the house at all costs.

    April 28, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Reply
  5. svend andersen

    Amanpour inteview did not get dovn to the real issue of the protest.

    The Thai Prime Minister was a supporter of the Yellow Protestors, who were allowed to block and destroy Goverment House for months, other public places, anf finally the airports. The Military and Police refused to take action against the Yellow shirt leaders bringing down the Goverment, and were the kingmaker in bringing Abhisit to power.
    Abhisit then appointed a Yellow leader as Foreign Minister.
    The Yellow leaders have never been charged with their criminal action, which according to the law in Thailand have severe punishments.
    No wonder that Abhisit now tastes his own medicine with the Reds doing exactly the same as the Yellow, who his supported.
    It was clear yesterday that the Thai Prime Minister has asked for inteviews with several foreign media to prepare the military crack down with "as little blood in the streets as possible".
    The Prime minister needs to explain why he supports the Yellow protestors and crack down on the red.

    April 28, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  6. Viney

    I am surprise to hear such ignorant accusations about the illegitimacy of the current government lead by Prime Minister Abhisit from such an experience and learned journalist. However, I happy to see that PM Abhisit has been given the chance the set the record straight.

    April 28, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  7. Facts about the Abhisit administration

    Abhisit, coming into power via a militarily-supported shortcut, clearly is not accepted by a significant number of Thais across the country;

    Abhisit cannot even stay in his own residence, nor can he visit 90% of the provinces in Thailand;

    Abhisit's tyrannical deeds have led to over 20 lives and injuries of thousands; many more?

    The majority of people could only be decided by voting, and that's exactly what Abhisit has been trying to avoid; What a cunning and shameless loser!

    etc.

    April 28, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Reply
  8. Vinit Coburn

    I feel that Ms. Amanpour failed to ask the key question on why the Thai PM involved the military force in trying to deal with the uprising. Mr. Abhisit stated that the action of the red shirt is a terrorist act because it involved the radical faction, the so call "Men in Black" which operated among the red shirt demonstrators. The government had relied on the police force to keep order according to the rule of law. However, the entire police force had miserably failed in their attempt several time, most likely by choice. This is dued to the known fact that no one want to say in public or on the air that the police force in Thailand are corrupted to the highest level and that the person who bankrolls them is none other than Mr. Thaksin. With no law enforcement that the government can count on, Mr. Abhisit has no choice but to rely on the help of the arm force. This is when things get very complicated. Like the police force, some of the arm forced are also corrupted. The Chief of the army has been very slow in taking action citing that he did not wanted to use force because he did not want to be responsible for the casualty count. Is that really the main reason or does he have other reason similar to the police force. Perhaps instead of grilling Mr. Abhisit on why the government can not keep peace, you should be interviewing the Chief of Police and the Chief of Army on why their loyalty are not with the government and the country they are serving. In my opinion, Mr. Abhisit is tackling much more than people demanding democracy, he is tackling a very taboo subject of corruption of which Mr. Thaksin was found guilty and was sentenced to two years prison in which he chose to escape. This uprising is none other than a vendetta that Mr. Thaksin created in the name of democracy. Perhaps your next feature on Thailand you might touch on the subject of who is really behind this so called "Democracy in Thailand". Is it really for the people or is it really about money!

    April 29, 2010 at 7:24 am | Reply
  9. Hussein Mayomba

    The Thai prime ministers government must try to do more to avoid a civil war by starting the negotiation with his opponents, and in case it fails to agree or agree to disagree the door is open for him to leave and depart with he is stil respected so as to avoid the blame for the problems which may occur if he will continue to hold power.

    April 29, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Reply
  10. Lindsay Tannock

    Just goes to show the power of Thaksin Lobbying CNN. BBC etc.
    The questions were so one sided it wasn't just funny but ridiculous.
    Ms. Amanpour showed she has no political knowledge regarding Thailand and it's history.
    The previous TRT party failed when they had power with how many Temp PM's? 4 or 5? The Thai house took a stand and
    knew Thailand would have no future if it did not change course but now Abhisit is in the hot seat they are jealous he is gaining popularity.
    Thaksin has Prostate cancer but of course CNN has not mentioned than yet.
    Ms. Amanpour did not ask questions regarding Red Shirt terror tactics did she? Did she ask about the M79's found, bombs planted around the city, anything? no.
    The Red Shirt have no credibility at all with a leader who pays terrorists to do his dirty work for him.
    Lucky Thaksin didn't pay his Shin-Corp taxes otherwise he may still be PM. CNN didn't say that did they?
    P.S Soldier shot a few days ago in Bangkok was NOT Friendly Fire, CNN got it wrong again. Red Shirts don't have guns do they?!!! Ms. Amanpour

    April 30, 2010 at 3:00 am | Reply
  11. Thai Citizen

    To those who are commenting about the situation in Thailand and don't really know ..please dont. It's more complicate than you ever imagine. The redshirt group is really a minority that are backed by a convicted Ex-PM who want his power back. This Ex-PM is the source of this mess. He used his money and buy into every segment of Thai society. Abhisit is one of the best Prime Miniser Thailand ever had. Just take a look at his Fan Base in Facebook and take a look at the opposition and compare.

    May 1, 2010 at 4:06 am | Reply
  12. Pedxs

    "Puea Thais Party” maintained the majority seats in the Parliament"

    Perhaps you should get your fact straight. See. 233 seats does not represent a majority. And even less so after accounting for those early disqualifications from blatant vote-buying.

    Go back to posting stupid music videos on the nation web blog.

    May 1, 2010 at 4:34 am | Reply

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