Thai army chief gives no reply on talks with protesters

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BANGKOK, Dec 12 – Thai army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said today the armed forces have yet to respond to anti-government protesters’ call for a dialogue, stressing their political neutrality.

He referred to the request by protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to hold talks with top military and police brass to elaborate the protesters’ principles on political reform and seek their recommendations.

Mr Suthep, secretary general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), set 8 pm today as the deadline for the response.

Gen Prayuth said he has yet to discuss with leaders of the armed forces and report to Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in her capacity as caretaker defence minister.

He said he was not empowered to make the decision and protesters should avoid pushing the armed forces into the middle of the current conflicts.

“Justice is the most significant factor in solving the problems,” he said.

He admitted that the current conflict is the biggest in Thailand’s history and it will not end if different factions continue retaliating to each other.

Protesters under the Students and People Network for Thailand’s Reform, a grouping in the PDRC, have cut barbed wires surrounding Government House this morning.

They later cut electricity and water supply to state offices after their one-hour deadline for police to leave the compound has not been responded.

Fire crackers were hurled onto the ground while police forces remained guarding the property.