Divisive duo appointed to unity panel

Divisive duo appointed to unity panel

The government has named Suporn Atthawong and Terdpong Chaiyanant as its representatives on the proposed national reconciliation panel.

Mr Suporn is vice minister to the Prime Minister's Office, while Mr Terdpong is a Democrat Party MP.

Asked why the government had chosen the pair, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said: "They know what they should do."

As to whether Mr Suporn was chosen because he was formerly a key figure in the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, Gen Prawit said: "You are free to think what you like."

Reporters also questioned if the choice would be divisive since the pair often exchanged heated words with protesters, Gen Prawit said: "Let them get to work first."

Deputy Prime Minister and Democrat Party leader Jurin Laksanawisit said Mr Terdpong was qualified to sit on the panel due to his lengthy political experience.

Pheu Thai MP and chief opposition whip Sutin Klungsang reiterated yesterday that the six opposition parties had previously decided not to join the panel.

He said they would meet parliament president Chuan Leekpai anyway today to discuss matters relating to the panel but added: "If the parliament president asks the opposition camp to join the panel, it remains to be seen what the opposition parties will decide."

Mr Chuan earlier said the proposed unity panel was taking shape with the government, the Senate and political parties expected to submit the lists of their representatives this week.

He said he hoped the panel would meet by the end of the year and that he would today clarify the panel's task to the opposition parties and try to get them on board.

He warned the panel was only part of the reconciliation process and there was no guarantee it would end the conflict.

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