Abhisit slams Thai government on amnesty move

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BANGKOK, April 20 – Thailand’s opposition leader has warned that the government-sponsored Amnesty Bill will lead the country backwards and result in political confrontation.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the Democrat Party, was referring to a decision by the Lower House on Thursday to designate the bill a top priority for debate when Parliament reconvenes in August

The bill seeks to pardon those found guilty of inciting political demonstrations or violence since the 2006 coup. Then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted after a coup and has been in self-exile abroad since.

Mr Abhisit admitted that he was concerned by the government’s attempt to have the controversial bill deliberated in the next parliamentary session.

He said the legislation would be a stepping stone for the government to propose a related bill which would eventually grant amnesty to Mr Thaksin and pave the way for his return to Thailand.

It has been reported that the government would push for the so-called reconciliation bill with the hidden objective of assisting Mr Thaksin to return.

The Democrat leader said political reconciliation would be impossible unless everyone respects the justice process.

“Forgiveness and amnesty are different issues. A person is forgiven when he admits his mistakes or wrongdoing. Amnesty is an announcement that a particular activity is not an offence,” he said.

He added that a joint attempt by Pheu Thai MPs and some senators to discredit the power of the Constitution Court by proposing legislation on constitution amendments would only contribute to conflicts among state agencies.

Section 68 of the Constitution allows people to file complaints either with the Constitution Court or the Attorney-General on issues deemed detrimental to the monarchy.

The rewritten version, proposed in an amendment bill recently passed by Parliament in the first reading, eliminates the role of the Constitution Court in this context.

The Constitution Court should be authorised to do its job, Mr Abhisit said.