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Thailand's opposition, protesters stay out of new reconciliation panel

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A reconciliation committee formed by Thailand's parliament speaker to resolve issues raised by anti-government protesters was packed with politicians from the ruling coalition and military-appointed senators.

[BANGKOK] A reconciliation committee formed by Thailand's parliament speaker to resolve issues raised by anti-government protesters was packed with politicians from the ruling coalition and military-appointed senators.

The panel, which also comprised several academics, didn't include any representatives from opposition parties and protest groups after they both rejected the proposal first mooted last year. The committee, which has currently 11 members, will hold its first meeting on Monday, according to House Speaker Chuan Leekpai.

The reconciliation panel, also endorsed by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, has a mandate to resolve political conflict and demonstrations by protesters who demand the government's resignation and a rewriting of the military-backed constitution. The doors of the panel may be open to the opposition and nominees of protest groups, Mr Chuan said.

"The opposition can join at any time," Mr Chuan said. "This is about brainstorming to reduce conflict in the country. They can join whenever they want." Thai capital Bangkok saw almost daily rallies for the better part of the second half of last year as protesters demanded greater democracy and reform of the monarchy. There has been a lull in protests since the start of this year because of a resurgence in the coronavirus outbreak that's triggered restrictions on businesses and travel.

The protesters are calling for the resignation of Mr Prayuth and a rewriting of the constitution, which was written after the former general took power in a 2014 military coup and helped him stay in power after the 2019 elections. Although the parliament has agreed to look at a pathway to amend the charter, it has rejected demand for monarchy reform.

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