Southern peace talks make slow progress

The Thai government and Muslim separatist insurgents in southern Thailand proposed on Thursday forming a joint working group to flesh out the broad terms agreed on in their third round of peace talks held this week in the Malaysian capital.

Southern peace talks make slow progress
Thailand General

Southern peace talks make slow progress

published : 13 Jan 2022 at 22:42

writer: Kyodo News

Soldiers guard the Sungai Kolok River along the Thai-Malaysian border in Sungai Kolok district, Narathiwat. (File Photo: Bangkok Post)

The Thai government and Muslim separatist insurgents in southern Thailand proposed on Thursday forming a joint working group to flesh out the broad terms agreed on in their third round of peace talks held this week in the Malaysian capital.

A Thai delegation led by Gen Wanlop Rugsanaoh and the rebel group, Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) led by Anas Abdulrahman, held two days of talks through Tuesday on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia's former federal police chief Abdul Rahim Mohad Noor acting as facilitator.

Two international observers from Britain and Norway also attended the meeting.

The Thai government and the BRN agreed on "the principles that would be the substantive matters for the future rounds of talks including reduction of violence, public consultations, and political solution," according to a statement from the Thai government.

A joint working group will be established to support the peace dialogue.

BRN hopes the peace talks will continue and bring lasting and dignified peace to all Patani Malays, Anas said at a press conference in a hotel outside of Kuala Lumpur.

He said substantive matters also cover the issues of language, economics, culture and education.

The Patani Malays have long resented the "Thaification" of their people as the Thai language replaced Malay in schools and civil law overrode Islamic laws.

No date has been fixed yet on the next round of talks. Both parties last met in March 2020, around three months after the first round of talks.

This week's talks marked the third face-to-face meeting since Wanlop was appointed in 2019 to head the negotiations on behalf of the Thai government.

Muslim separatist activity has existed in Thailand for decades but the insurgency turned increasingly violent beginning in 2004 and has since claimed at least 7,000 lives.

The BRN is just one of several ethnic Malay rebel groups fighting the predominantly Buddhist central government for either an independent country or more autonomous Muslim entity in the region bordering Malaysia.

The Thai government had held talks before in 2015 with the Patani Consultative Council also known as Mara Patani.

But negotiations were suspended in early 2019 and the Thai government decided to engage instead with BRN, the largest and most powerful among the insurgent groups in Thailand's restive deep South.



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