End to Thai Crisis in Sight as Two Sides Reach Tactical Truce

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By Vasudevan Sridharan | December 4, 2013 4:38 PM EST

An anti-government protester eats his breakfast as protesters get ready to leave their encampment near the Democracy monument in Bangkok - (Reuters)

The political deadlock in Thailand over the recent anti-government protests may soon come to an end as Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has appointed an open academic forum to find a way out of the stalemate.

Yingluck has assigned Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana and Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri to spearhead the forum which will comprise academics, industrialists, opposition groups and others to discuss the ongoing situation.

"I would like to invite all Thais including academics, businessmen, protesters, and experts from all sectors to join the open forum to find solutions for political reform," Yingluck said. She also urged the media to play a constructive role.

The move also coincides with the celebrations of the king's birthday, a significant day for Thailand.

Yingluck announced the proposal after the opposition vowed not to accept anything short of appointing a new interim prime minister, a non-political candidate chosen by the Thai king.

To validate his demand, opposition leader Suthep Thaugsuban had said even if Yingluck resigns or the parliament is dissolved, she or her immediate family members - her sister Yaowapa or brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat - will find ways to come back to power.

Nevertheless, Suthep, who has promised to continue the fight, was also seen relaxed for probably the first time since the protests began. He has also unveiled plans for "national reforms" and Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul vowed to look into what Suthep has to offer.

Top military officials, who earlier mediated talks between Yingluck and Suthep, have also expressed optimism over the situation.

"Everyone agreed that the military forces will not take a leading role in this situation and there will be no coup as we believe the tension is easing and everything will be back to normal soon," naval chief Narong Pipathanasai told reporters following a meeting between senior military figures.

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