Thai democrats firm in opposition to blanket amnesty: Abhisit

Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - The Thai Democrat Party will not waver in its resistance to a sweeping pardon for political protesters even if it has to go it alone, the party leader said yesterday.

"I don't think, however, that the Democrats will be isolated or kept out of the ongoing talks on amnesty," Abhisit Vejjajiva said.

Last week's secret meeting on amnesty strategy arranged by Deputy House Speaker Charoen Chankomol was not intended as a snub against the party, he said.

The main opposition party's own amnesty proposal was very clear and consistent - leniency should be reserved for violators of the emergency decree, he said. Those rally organisers involved in instigating arson attacks, violence, firings at crowds and the killing of people, as well as graft, should not be covered, he said.

The Democrats want the government to explain whether its proposal for a pardon was a pretext to rescue former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra from his self-imposed exile abroad, he said.

If the government is sincere about clemency only for political protesters, then it should demonstrate this by abandoning the four bills on amnesty and reconciliation that were designed to save Thaksin, he said.

The amnesty bill should contain clear, simple and straightforward provisions on protesters and not cover rally organisers, he said.

The call to set up a panel to review which organisers were entitled to mercy would lead to arbitrary decisions, he added.

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