Thai authorities intend to invite separatist group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) to the negotiating table in a move to restore peace in the deep South, negotiation chief Udomchai Thamsarorat said on Friday.
Thailand's head of Peace Dialogue Panel, Udomchai Thamsarorat, left, and ex-Malaysian police chief Abdul Rahim Noor, speak to the press in Bangkok on Friday. // EPA-EFE PHOTO
Speaking to reporters after first meeting with Malaysian facilitator Abdul Rahim Noor to map out a work plan for peace, Udomchai said BRN’s violent stance was not acceptable, adding that the government wants two-way communication with the group.
A spate of violence has rocked the predominantly Muslim region since early 2004, killing some 7,000 people. The authorities in Bangkok have engaged with a group called MARA Patani – which claims to be an umbrella organisation – but has failed to make any progress as observers believe the group does not represent militants on the ground.
Malaysian facilitator Abdul Rahim Noor, right, and head of Thailand's Peace Dialogue Panel, Udomchai Thamsarora, at a meeting in Bangkok on Friday. // EPA-EFE PHOTO
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who introduced ex-police chief Abdul Rahim as the new facilitator, said during his recent visit to Thailand that the authorities should try to discuss the issue with several groups.
Udomchai, who was formerly the Fourth Army Region commander and was recently appointed to lead peace negotiations, told the peace facilitator that the Thai government will set guidelines for peace talks.
Thailand's head of Peace Dialogue Panel, Udomchai Thamsarorat, left, and Malaysian facilitator, ex-police chief Abdul Rahim Noor, share a joke during their meeting in Bangkok on Friday. // EPA-EFE PHOTO
Agreeing that talks should be conducted with the consent of all stakeholders, he said, different groups will be allowed to reflect their needs freely. The authorities will take all views into consideration for the peace process, he said.
Abdul Rahim said Malaysia is ready to facilitate peace talks as requested by Thailand under the framework set by the Thai authorities.