Varawut hoses down calls to quit govt coalition

Varawut hoses down calls to quit govt coalition

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa on Saturday brushed off calls to pull out of the coalition government following the dispersal of anti-government protesters on Friday night, saying the issue would have to be addressed by the party first.

Mr Varawut, chairman of Chart Thai Pattana Party's policy and strategy committee, was among key figures of coalition parties being urged by former secretary-general of Pheu Thai Party Phumtham Wechayachai to withdraw from the Palang Pracharath Party-led (PPRP) government.

In a Facebook message addressed to Mr Varawut, Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul, and Democrat leader Jurin Laksanawisit, Mr Phumtham called on them to stop supporting a government which had used violence against protesters. Mr Varawut said the issue was delicate and would have to be discussed within the party. Its stance was to work in the nation's best interest and work for the royal institution as his late father and former prime minister Banharn Silpa-archa did.

After the crowd dispersal on Friday night, the six-party opposition led by Pheu Thai condemned the government for using violence against the protesters and pushed for a special House meeting to debate the emergency situation decree imposed to handle the political protest.

Pheu Thai spokeswoman Arunee Kasayanont said yesterday Pheu Thai secretary-general Praset Jantararuangtong was lobbying coalition parties in supporting the proposed extraordinary parliamentary session to discuss the conflict. Ms Arunee said the opposition camp needed 34 more votes to submit a motion for the special session and it looked for support from the Bhumjaithai and Democrat parties.

Democrat spokesman Ramet Rattanachaweng yesterday called for a dialogue to address the conflict. However, he said the demonstrators' demands must be clearly defined and made within the scope of the law. He suggested their call for reforms of the higher institution should be dropped because it affected the public's feelings.

He added the Democrat Party was willing to push for charter amendments to help spare the country damage that might occur from possible violence. Chinnaworn Bunyakiat, the deputy government chief whip, said calls for an extraordinary session would be discussed by a joint government and opposition whips this week.

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