March 26, 2006

Thai opposition reject PM’s national unity offer

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's main opposition parties
rejected on Monday an offer from Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra to form a government of national unity after April 2
elections to end a protracted political deadlock.

"I think this is Thaksin's new joke," said Ong-Ard
Klampaiboon, spokesman for the Democrat Party, which is
boycotting next weekend's poll because it says it cannot be
neutral or fair.

"His point is only to have the election and not to worry
whether it is a dirty election or not," he said.

Thaksin, who called the election three years early to foil
a six-month street campaign to oust him, said late on Sunday
his opponents would have senior positions in a national unity
government even if they took no part in the election.

There was no immediate reaction from the Matachon party,
which is also staging a poll boycott, but Chart Thai party
officials rejected the olive branch from a prime minister they
accuse of corruption and abuse of power.

"It's Thaksin's mirage," deputy party leader Somsak
Prisnanantakul told a Bangkok radio station. "He's already
rotten and he's trying to drag everyone in to be rotten like

Despite Thaksin's huge popularity with rural Thais, some
seats are likely to remained unfilled in a country where the
constitution says all must be filled before a government can be