Thaksin Shinawatra has urged Thailand’s ruling junta to stop blaming him for political violence, adding he wants no place in the military government’s ongoing reconciliation efforts. On 31 March 2017, the exiled former Prime Minister condemned the junta on his Facebook page for its failure to handle the country’s economy.
Communication devices and the media have been banned from provincial consultation forums held by the junta to discuss political reconciliation, leaving the public no means to check whether reconciliation policies will reflect the people’s wishes. On 6 March 2017, the junta held the first of three provincial forums in Nakhon Sawa
The media have been barred from the junta’s first regional session for political reconciliation in Chiang Mai.
The military has summoned an outspoken politician from the Pheu Thai Party to a military base for refusing to take part in the junta’s controversial reconciliation process. On 26 February 2017, Watana Muangsook, an embattled Pheu Thai politician, posted on his Facebook account that a military commander of the 21st Infantry Regiment had summoned him for a discussion.
Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, a long-time labour activist now lèse majesté prisoner, has denounced the junta’s political reconciliation plans. If the regime is really serious about reconciliation, asserted Somyot, all parties to the political conflicts since the 2006 coup d’état must be invited to the negotiation table. This includes controversial figures such as Thaksin Shinawatra, Suthep Thaugsuban, Yingluck Shinawatra, Jatuporn Prompan, Abhisit Vejjajiva, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, Sondhi Limthongkul and Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin.
As a model for its ongoing reconciliation efforts, the Thai junta will follow the amnesty programme for communists implemented during the Cold War. The Thai government has made political reconciliation a policy priority, to resolve chronic unrest between different political movements. Plans include a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be signed by various political parties and movements in acknowledgement of a promise to build peaceful relationships with each other.
According to a recent political survey, the Thai public believes that the country is in need of political reconciliation. However, it is divided over whether reconciliation can be achieved under the military regime.
A commission tasked by Thailand’s junta with achieving political reconciliation will be dominated by military appointees, even though military interference in politics is itself a prime source of conflict. Last week, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, the deputy junta head, revealed the military government’s national reconciliation plans, receiving both criticism and support from politicians. The plans include political amnesties and Memorandum of Understandings (MOU) between all
Thailand’s junta has shown itself unwilling to reconsider the inclusion of capital punishment in its Organic Act on Political Parties.