Yellow Shirts threaten mass rally unless reconciliation bills withdrawn

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BANGKOK, July 24 – Yellow Shirt activists of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) threatened Tuesday to rally unless the reconciliation bills currently before Parliament are withdrawn within seven days.

Key PAD leaders Sondhi Limthongkul, Chamlong Srimuang, Pipob Thongchai and Somkiat Pongpaiboon announced the group’s stance on the national reconciliation bills which might be reconsidered in Parliament early next month when the session opens.

Among the proposed bills, one was drafted by the 2006 coup leader Gen Sondhi Boonyaratglin, now an MP and leader of the Matuphum Party, amid criticism that the bill was crafted to benefit ousted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra rather than the public.

In late May House Speaker Somsak cancelled House sessions on national reconciliation bills scheduled for June 6-7 following chaos in Parliament and street protests by many groups opposing the bills.

PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan said he has been assigned by the movement to petition Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont to consider withdrawing the reconciliation bills before Parliament starts on Aug 1.

Mr Panthep reasoned that the proposed bills caused divisiveness in society and are likely to benefit the government’s allies, as well as clear their wrongdoings.

He noted that the reconciliation bills remain the first agenda of the House session and there is no sign that the bills will be withdrawn.

As the government has a majority vote in Parliament, it is inevitably responsible for such bills, stated Mr Panthep, urging the prime minister to ask the lawmakers to withdraw the bills to end conflicts.

“As soon as the reconciliation bills are placed on the House agenda for deliberation,” the PAD spokesman threatened, the Yellow Shirts will rally immediately and continue to protest in many locations until the bills are withdrawn.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Yingluck reacted to the PAD challenge, saying that withdrawing the reconciliation bills depends on House consideration itself, as the bills are not proposed by the government.

Ms Yingluck said the government could not intervene in the affairs of the legislative body.

She said she wished that the parliamentary mechanism will be used to deliberate and exchange ideas to find appropriate solutions to the problems.

The premier said any gathering could be done within legal limits and that she has instructed the police to maintain law and order.

She also suggested that the PAD should submit their proposal via its representatives for discussion in Parliament to work out an appropriate solution.