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Turbulent Thailand

Thailand prime minister agrees to open talks with 'stakeholders'

Prayuth's cabinet expects committee to break impasse with youthful protesters

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha mentions a committee that is expected to include a wide range of stakeholders to hash out solutions to the country's current political crisis.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Thai lawmakers are giving themselves another stage to discuss a solution for the current political impasse, after having failed to come up with a convincing response to pro-democracy protesters during a two-day special parliamentary session that closed on Tuesday.

"The cabinet agreed to set up a committee to find a solution," Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said during a news conference after a weekly cabinet meeting. "The committee will involve members of parliament, senators and various stakeholders."

Prayuth did not elaborate on who the "various stakeholders" will be. However, on Tuesday, Jurin Laksanawisit, the deputy prime minister and leader of the Democrats, a coalition party, proposed setting up a reconciliation committee that would include government representatives, coalition and opposition lawmakers from both chambers, pro-democracy protesters, pro-government protesters and experts.

The agreement that Prayuth referred to could be a nod to Jurin's proposal.

In the news conference, Prayuth said he supports constitutional amendments through a parliamentary process. He also said giving the Senate the right to vote for prime ministers is "not my concern."

Under the current constitution, Thailand's prime minister must be selected by a majority of parliament, including the Prayuth junta's 250 hand-picked senators and the 500 elected lower house members.

This gives the Senate veto power in choosing prime ministers.

From the outset of the pro-democracy movement, protesters have demanded the resignation of Prayuth and his cabinet, in addition to constitutional changes drafted by representatives of the people and reform of the monarchy, but not its abolition. Taking away the Senate's veto power is a major aim of the pro-democracy protesters.

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