Dialogue To Reopen Chaeng Wattana Road Begins

(27 January) The negotiation between governmental officials and anti-government leaders to re-open the Government Complex has begun.

Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) has previously vowed to reclaim Chaeng Wattana Road and reopen state agencies in the area which have been closed down by anti-government protesters for weeks. 
Led by activist monk Luang Phu Buddha Issara, the group is allied to People′s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State (PCAD), which threatens to occupy key roads and intersections across Bangkok until Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra resigns.
The negotiation took place in a military base, and was attended by Buddha Issara and governmental officials whose offices are currently closed down by the protesters. Members of the press were allowed to observe the dialogue.
Mr. Thongchai Chasawad, Director of the Department of Consular Affairs, began the dialogue by telling Buddha Issara that the shutdown of the Department′s headquarters has forced the officials to greatly decrease the number of passports issued for Thai citizens, from 6,500 booklets per day to 2,500 booklets per day,
Officials are also struggling with "tens of thousands" of backlog cases, Mr. Thongchai said, such as inspection of foreign individuals who wish to participate in businesses in Thailand. 
Mr. Thongchai then assured the monk that the Department will not interfere with the protesters in any way once it is allowed to reopen its headquarters.
Later, Mr. Tawatchai Thaikiao, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, informed Buddha Issara that the Ministry has been likewise severely affected by the protests. 
According to Mr. Tawatchai, the Ministry has been unable to carry out numerous tasks related to court orders, such as probation and other legal execution operations, since the shutdown began.
A representative from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment also told the monk that officials cannot follow up on complaints of illegal deforestation or regulate emissions as long as the Ministry remains closed down. 
Replying to the officials, Luang Phu Buddha Issara claimed that these problems would not escalate much as the protests would only last "less than 2 weeks from now". 
"The world won′t be warmer in that period," the monk said, "The protesters neither released emission into the air, nor cut down any forest".
He insisted that the protesters are doing their best to keep Chaeng Wattana Road open for 24 hours, but admitted that due to "security concerns" the protesters have to regularly set up roadblocks. 
As the negotiation reached this point, Luang Phu Buddha Issara suddenly noticed the presence of Lt. Sunisa Lertpakawat, a spokeswoman of CMPO, and asked her why she was included in the negotiation.
Lt. Sunisa replied that she was there to assist the press, but Buddha Issara demanded that she leave immediately, citing concerns that presence of representatives from any political agency would jeopardise the negotiation. 
"It causes me to be suspicious," Luang Phu Buddha Issara explained.
The CMPO spokeswoman then bade farewell to the monk and immediately departed from the negotiation venue. 
Officials described the dialogue as inconclusive at the moment, but Pol.Maj.Gen. Adul Naronssak, deputy commander of the Bangkok Metropolitan Police, said that he remains "hopeful" of the negotiation outcome.
"This negotiation was not conducted under the emergency decree," Pol.Maj.Gen. Adul said in a press conference, "It′s a dialogue by Thais people to start a discussion and jointly find a solution".

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