BANGKOK, Dec 2 – Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has offered the Thai prime minister two days to return power to the people and called on civil servants to stop working today.
In the first dialogue with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra since kicking off the demonstrations on October 31, Mr Suthep said the talks were held in the presence of the top officers of the three armed forces.
Mr Suthep, secretary general of the newly-formed People’s Democratic Reform Committee, said he told Ms Yingluck that the dialogue was not a negotiation and that the government must abide by the people’s demands within two days.
In a speech to demonstrators at the Government Administration Complex on Chaengwattana Road, he called on the prime minister to return the power to the Thai people, whom he called are owners of the country and of its sovereignty.
His address, telecast live by all TV stations, was beamed to the protesters’ rally sites on Ratchadamnoen Avenue and the Finance Ministry on Soi Aree.
He said, “If Ms Yingluck willingly returns the power to the people, we will treat her in a gentlemanly manner. People are not pleased [simply] with the government’s resignation or dissolution of the House.”
The former Democrat MP said he clearly told Ms Yingluck that Thai people wanted to exercise their power to change Thailand to a country with a full democratic system under the monarchy.
It was not a negotiation whatsoever and the government must take action within two days, said Mr Suthep, adding that it would be up to Ms Yingluck on how to fulfill the people’s demands, but the people will not stop their movement.
“The prime minister did not reply (during the talk) but I’ve done my duty in telling her the people’s objectives on behalf of the people,” he said.
Mr Suthep said, “The army chief spoke in front of the other armed forces leaders and the prime minister that he did not want to see people’s deaths or injuries since the armed forces take Thailand’s side.
“I told the chiefs of the three armed forces that we are up in arms for people of the next generations in a peaceful manner without putting pressure on civil servants. We however want government officials to stop serving the Thaksin regime and stand on the people’s side by voluntarily stopping their work. People wait for government officials’ decisions today.”