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Thai leader calls for national reconciliation

From Kocha Olarn, CNN
  • Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's speech comes after weeks of political turmoil
  • Abhisit said it was time for reform in Thailand
  • He has asked for a probe into the government's crackdown
  • Reform will not be easy, Abhisit said

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- After a spring marred by political turbulence, Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva called for national reconciliation in a speech delivered Thursday.

"It is time for us to reform Thailand," said Abhisit, who survived a no-confidence motion in parliament earlier this month. "Be united as one, protect our main national institutes, and build equality, and communicate to each other constructively."

Abhisit struck a conciliatory note at a critical juncture as an appointed fact-finding chief looks into the March to May anti-government demonstrations and the crackdown that ensued.

The United Front for Democracy, the formal name of the Red Shirt opposition, had been demanding that Abhisit dissolve the lower house of Parliament and call new elections. The Red Shirts support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 bloodless military coup.

In the course of the protests, more than 80 people died and 1,500 others were injured in the unrest.

One third of Thailand remains under emergency law, which empowers the military to take charge of security.

Abhisit has already laid out a reform road map that, among other things, addresses social and economic inequality, press freedoms and the country's constitution.

Abhisit said Thursday that reform will not be easy and that "it may take time longer than the government's term."