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Put the nation first, says Prem

March 16, 2006

All parties involved in the current political conflict should help each other defuse the crisis in the best interests of the country, said Privy Council chairman Prem Tinsulanonda yesterday.

Gen Prem made the appeal at his Si Sao Theves residence on the eve of caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's first scheduled appearance at Government House since demonstrators massed at the seat of power on Monday.

''All concerned with the situation are grown-up, knowledgeable people who mean well for the country. I ask all sides to think and act in the best interests of our country and people,'' Gen Prem said.

Peace, happiness and national unity were most important. ''I ask you to take this message to those who may help defuse the situation. (They) should put the people's happiness and unity first and should think of what they should do to defuse the situation. I hope they all can.''

It marked the first time that Gen Prem had spoken since political tensions rose. A source close to him said he might be sending a signal that he was ready to mediate in talks.

Government spokesman Surapong Suebwonglee said the government would take to heart Gen Prem's call. Caretaker Public Health Minister Phinij Jarusombat wanted to get all the parties involved together for talks.

However, he reiterated the government's stand against broadcasting such talks, saying the participants would then be more focused on the audience rather than on finding solutions.

Privy Councillor Surayud Chulanont said talks were the best way out of the current impasse.

''Only talks can solve the problem and I will keep pushing for this solution although it may upset some parties. I don't mind that. I am not afraid of losing any credit,'' Gen Surayud said.

Ref: Bangkok Post

Prem Tinsulanonda Center for International Education, Chiang Mai, Kingdom of Thailand