Thailand’s political crisis deepened Sunday after the main protest leader said the door for talks had “shut” even as the government threatened to use force to reclaim key state buildings besieged for months by opposition activists bent on toppling premier Yingluck Shinawatra.
Suthep Thaugsuban, who heads the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), set an impossible condition for dialogue by saying he would only talk with former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who is in self-exile.
“So the door for talks should be considered shut. I won’t have talks with Yingluck, either in secret or in public. Also, I won’t negotiate with any representative from the government because they have no real power,” said Suthep, a former deputy premier and opposition Democrat Party leader.
He was of the view that Thaksin, the brother of Yingluck who is in self-exile to avoid a jail term, would not return to Thailand and risk being arrested as he had been convicted for abuse of power. He claimed Thaksin was the de-facto leader of the current caretaker government.
Thaksin was ousted in a coup in 2006 and lives in Dubai.
Chalerm Yubamrung, director of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) that is overseeing the response to the protests, said rally sites in the vicinity of the premier’s office, known as Government House, will be seized back from protesters and there will be no more talks since previous attempts had failed.
Police forces would be used to retake these sites. If met with resistance by protesters, who are said to be armed, police might have to use guns to protect themselves, Chalerm, also the caretaker Labour Minister, was quoted as saying by Bangkok Post.
Saturday, he directed authorities to ensure that the premier’s office compound is reopened by Wednesday as Yingluck intends to return to the building.
The premier and her cabinet have been working from an undisclosed location after protesters occupied key buildings as part of their three-month-old campaign to oust Yingluck and install an unelected “People’s Council” to carry out reforms.