Monday, April 26, 2010

Tentative peace overtures in Bangkok

The stalemate between the Thai government and the opposition UDD, also known as the Red Shirts, seems to be giving way to attempts at finding a compromise solution.

As thousands of pro-government demonstrators rallied in Bangkok against the Red Shirts, both sides signalled on Friday they might be open to a compromise. So far, the Red Shirts had insisted that parliament be dissolved immediately, whereas the government had offered new polls at the end of the year. Eakpant Pidavanija is a lecturer at Thailand's renowned Mahidol University's Research Center for Peace Building, which has been active in exploring peaceful ways of conflict resolution in the crisis.

Deutsche Welle: Is there still scope for a negotiated settlement in the current standoff?

Eakpant Pidavanija: Yes. The government and the leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) have been talking to each other almost every day, I think. But the details have not been discussed yet. So far, they are just trying to find the right opportunity for real negotiations.

So you are saying they are having behind-the-scenes talks, and there is constant communication?

Yes, I think so. At least there is a certain kind of communication how the demonstrations should be held, or how the distance between the security personnel and the demonstrators should be, something like that.

There have also been reports about mediation efforts. What can you tell us about them?

There are several organizations or individuals trying to build a bridge between the government and the UDD. Certain conditions are acceptable, but it's still in the process.

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