Thailand praises Malaysia for facilitating peace process in southern Thailand

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha speaks during a news conference after a weekly cabinet meeting, after the general election, at Government House in Bangkok March 26, 2019. — Reuters pic
Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha speaks during a news conference after a weekly cabinet meeting, after the general election, at Government House in Bangkok March 26, 2019. — Reuters pic

BANGKOK, Nov 8 — Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan o-cha has praised Malaysia for facilitating the peace process in the kingdom’s southern border provinces.

“Malaysia has always given good cooperation as facilitator in the peace talks,” he said at a media conference at the Government House today.

Malaysia’s former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor was appointed in August last year as the facilitator for the southern Thailand peace talks between the Thai government and Majlis Syura Patani (Mara Patani).

Thailand appointed former National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Gen Wanlop Rugsanaoh as the new head for the southern Thai peace talks, effective Oct 1. Gen Wanlop replaced Gen Udomchai Thammasarorath, the former 4th Army Region commander.

Prayuth said he also discussed with Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad the possibility of bringing various insurgent groups in the southern provinces to the negotiating table.

“The problem is whether they (groups) will participate in the peace process or not some of them refused to come and staged violence instead. We cannot force them to participate,” he said.

In a statement, the Thai government said during the bilateral meeting with his Malaysian counterpart in Bangkok in conjunction with the 35th Asean Summit here, Prayuth thanked Malaysia for facilitating the Thai government in peace talks and also supporting Thailand’s effort in seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict which erupted in 2004.

The statement said Dr Mahathir also affirmed that Malaysia endorsed Thailand’s effort to address the southern border conflict, and agreed that secession must never happen.

On suggestions to impose a curfew in the southern provinces after Tuesday’s attack by an armed group which killed 15 people and injured four in Yala Province, Prayuth said the government would not impose a curfew now, but if there is, it would be imposed in a short period of time for investigation purposes.

“Curfew will be imposed to limit the perpetrators’ movement during hunting down,” he said.

Violence in four provinces in southern Thailand—Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala and Songkhla—has claimed more than 7,000 lives to date.

Over the past several years, Mara Patani has held peace negotiations with the Thai government to find a solution to the conflict. — Bernama

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