by Surasak Tumcharoen
BANGKOK, March 29 (Xinhua) -- Thailand's prolonged political crisis could be resolved only if the opposition Democrat Party, the country's oldest, would decide to participate in a new election.
But as of now, nobody can tell whether the opposition party would change its current stance. The Democrat Party boycotted the February 2 election, which was later nullified by the Constitutional Court.
The next election would be held within the next 60 days as provided for in the Thai Constitution and pertinent election law.
Democrat Party leader and former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva earlier commented that his party would consider contesting the election if acting Premier Yingluck Shinawatra and former deputy premier Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of anti-government protesters, would come to terms with each other to end the street protests.
Democrat Party Secretary General Juti Krairirk said that his party would contest the new election only if the country's political conflict is resolved.
But a number of ex-Democrat Party legislators were said to have preferred that their party fields candidates in the upcoming polls against candidates of the ruling the Pheu Thai (for Thais) Party led by Yingluck.
The Pheu Thai Party has called on opposition to participate in the electoral process if it believes in democracy from where they got the name of their party.
Suthep has earlier said that they would only participate in the elections if Yingluck would vacate her position and an elected council would run the affairs of the state.
Yingluck has neither confirmed nor denied speculations that she may not run in the forthcoming election so that the Democrat Party will stop its boycott and join the contest. "I'll do anything only if it could make the country go forward and return peace and order to the country," she said.
She said it is "too soon" to say whether she is going to run again under her party, adding that she has not yet made up her mind about the matter.
Pheu Thai Party Secretary General Poomtham Vejjachai said the new election might be disrupted by anti-government protesters as what happened during the last election.
The February 2 election was ruled as "illegitimate" by the Constitutional Court because a total of 28 southern constituencies, widely known as strongholds of the Democrats, had no electoral candidates. The anti-government protesters prevented the candidates from filing their certificates of candidacies.
In the meantime, Suthep had planned another massive protest rally in Bangkok's major streets on Saturday to express their strong opposition to the new election. Suthep said that the new polls should not take place until "political reforms" are put in place.
By political reforms, he meant that the Shinawatra family should not have anything to do with Thai politics because, according to him, the family's rule has been tainted with corruption, the latest of which is the government's populist rice program.
Red Shirt activists, who are pro-Shinawatra, are also planning a massive rally on April 5 to show solid support for Yingluck's elected government and the new election.
Army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha has called on all parties to sacrifice for the sake of the country and people who have been inconvenienced by the sustained street protests and rallies during the past several months.
"I don't know who should sacrifice in exchange for peace. If either side refused to sacrifice because they thought they would be defeated by the other side, the problem would never end. If they decide to fight against each other, they all would suffer casualties. Nobody would be the winner and the country would remain at a standstill," said the army chief.
Twenty-three people, including protesters, their guards and policemen, were reportedly killed and more than 700 others seriously injured during Bangkok's street unrests over the past several months.
Law lecturer Virapat Pariyawong said that the next prime minister, who will be picked from among elected lawmakers, should make a public statement to offer to dissolve parliament and call a snap election after six-months in power so that the Democrat Party could be lured to contest the next election.
The six-month period should be primarily devoted in instituting political reforms that would be undertaken by independent groups not identified with either political party, according to Pariyawong.