Reconciliation panel set to draft agreement

Reconciliation panel set to draft agreement

Testimony to the military committee took place at a huge table. (File photo)
Testimony to the military committee took place at a huge table. (File photo)

A military-led panel on national unity on Wednesday wrapped up two months of work gathering public opinion, paving the way for the drafting of a unity agreement which will be publicised in June.

A total of 124 people from various groups showed up for the wrap-up meeting. It was the first time participants of the unity building process had met face to face since the opinion gathering process started on Feb 14.

However, the now-defunct People's Democratic Reform Committee led by Suthep Thuagsuban did not attend the meeting. Mr Suthep previously said his group will not sign any agreement proposed under the process.

From Feb 14 to April 5, politicians, business community and people's representatives including media organisations met the committee, headed by defence permanent secretary Gen Chaicharn Changmongkol, to air their views on national reconciliation.

The views gathered will be processed by another committee chaired by army head Chalermchai Sitthisat and turned into a draft unity agreement.

Defence spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich said a draft framework on unity building is likely to be unveiled in June to solicit public comments.

Natthawut Saikuar, of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, proposed a new constitution be drafted following a general election and be put up for a national referendum.

He also proposed that a committee be set up to review and scrap the coup's orders and announcements, saying laws should be be passed by parliament if any of those orders are necessary.

Mongkol Bangprapa, secretary-general of the Thai Journalists Association, urged the committee not to use this wrap-up meeting as an excuse to avoid holding public hearings on unity-related draft laws.

He said one of the missing key proposals floated by media organisations was an assurance the state would not enact any law seeking to impose control or restrictions on press freedom.

Kosol Sonniab, secretary-general of the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, also voiced concerns over any attempt to control the media.

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