Chief negotiator maintains peace talks with Mara Patani are on trak.
PRIME Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday that his government would not grant recognition to the South’s MARA Patani group even as his chief negotiator maintained the peace process was still going on.
“Why do we have to accept their terms and conditions to recognise them?” Prayut said to reporters. “Who really cares about them?”
Aksara Kerdphol, chief of the Thai delegation engaged in talks with the MARA group, rejected earlier news reports that the talks in Malaysia a few days ago had failed.
The MARA Patani claims it is an umbrella group of Patani Malay separatist organisations.
The confidence-building process between Thai authorities and the Muslim group continues, but it will take time as the two parties have serious differences, Aksara said.
“The difference is that they want to have the minutes of the joint agreement but we cannot agree, as they do not have any formal status,” he said.
Aksara was in Malaysia on Wednesday to talk with the MARA Patani group but the meeting yielded no result, as the Thai delegation reportedly disagreed on having “terms of reference” for the peace process.
While analysts said the dismissal of Lt-General Nakrob Boonbuakarn, the secretary-general of the so-called Dialogue Panel of Thai negotiators, was also a factor behind the failure, Aksara denied that was the case and said he had the full mandate.
Nakrob needed to leave the task after he was promoted, and that was not abnormal as many representatives of other agencies in the team were also reshuffled in accordance with routine shifts, he said.
Prayut said his government could not accept conditions in talks with any outlawed groups.
“We cannot negotiate with any of these groups as it’s against the law and the constitution. That’s the reason they have to meet in a foreign country, so please do not bring them in,” he said.
It was the previous government (under Yingluck Shinawatra) that wanted to talk with the separatists, he said, and added that his government did not. “That [talks] would never solve any problem and hence I have to fix it,” he said.
Prayut said his government would never recognise any separatist group, as many others would surface to claim legitimacy.
The way to solve the conflict in the deep South is to bring the insurgents and those who have a different ideology into the plea-bargaining process in accordance with Article 21 of the Internal Security Act. His government has a clear policy to solve the problem with fairness and bring all different groups home, he said.
Meanwhile, Aksara said he would carry on the peace talks in accordance with the government’s policy.