Split over violence
By Manop Thip-Osod and Wassana Nanuam

Two leading members of the People's Alliance for Democracy were at odds yesterday over proposed attempts to resolve the country's political turmoil through negotiations.

Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang expressed readiness to attend peace talks and said the alliance's demonstrations had complied with the constitution and never resorted to violence.

"The alliance is ready to enter talks with all sides. We are never aggressive. We said all along that talks are a good idea," he said.

But Sondhi Limthongkul rejected calls for peace talks and criticised Chai Pattana Foundation secretary-general Sumet Tantivejakul, who on Sunday urged all sides to stop trying to solve the conflicts in society with violence.

Mr Sondhi said Mr Sumet should join attempts to prevent any attempt to discredit the royal institution instead of calling for national unity.

The remarks by Mr Sumet showed he had no concern about the more than 400 demonstrators who were injured during the Oct 7 clashes between the PAD and police, he added.

Worried about future conflicts between pro- and anti-government camps, attempts to get the the opposing sides to the negotiating table to resolve their differences peacefully have been engineered by the King Prajadhipok's Institute and peace advocates.

Privy Council president Gen Prem Tinsulanonda urged those involved in the conflict to end their disputes through dialogue. He said it was important to make sacrifices and everyone must accept less than what they had demanded for the good of the country.

The PAD will not lay siege to parliament when the House convenes today as the issue of the border conflict between Thailand and Cambodia will be on the agenda, not proposed charter amendments, Maj-Gen Chamlong said.

He warned that if pro-government groups disperse the PAD from the compound of Government House, they will regroup and even more people from Bangkok and the provinces will join the alliance's anti-government crusade.

Army commander-in-chief Gen Anupong Paojinda warned against groups of people trying to get the royal institution involved in politics and making inappropriate remarks.

He said the army is duty-bound to protect the monarchy and will seek legal avenues to make sure such people desist.

Every soldier is instructed to inform police about any people found offending the royal institution, Gen Anupong said.

An army source said the army and the Internal Security Operations Office (Isoc) have jointly set up a special task force to monitor people, activities and websites critical of the royal institution and gather evidence to file police complaints against them.

Army chief-of-staff Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is the Isoc's secretary-general, has been assigned to lead the task force, the source said.

Bangkok Post