Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Chamlong: We'll talk...but only on these conditions

On the surface, Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang, a core leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy, seems to have taken a softer position. He has opposed any negotiations with the government all along. Today, he gave the first indication that PAD may be ready to sit down for the first round of serious negotiations.

But several conditions will have to be first met: First of all, PAD, he says, will only talk to the government and no third or fourth parties will be involved. Secondly, a "middle man" who can be trusted by both sides will have to moderate the talks. No time frame is given. No agenda is proposed.

But hold on, before you think Chamlong has really taken a sofer stand, listen to what he added on to his list of conditions for talks: Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat will have to quit as part of the deal.

That's a tough stand. But then, PAD has denounced Somchai as Thaksin's "true nominee" from Day One. So, that final but unnegotiable condition isn't anything new anyway.

Do I think the PAD-government talks will actually happen? Not for now, I am afraid. Both sides are going through the motions of wanting to appear flexible but deep down, neither is ready to step back from their current positions.

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