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The NCPO finally decides to take on the South and its insurgency problems

POLITICIANS and academics oppose the idea of total military control in the troubled South - but they do support a more active role for the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) and civil groups.

A peace dialogue is to be worked out with Malaysia as a facilitator but there will be no talks about a self-administrating zone.

The military's power seizure from the elected government has so far underplayed southern issues like these.

Only last week did its ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) finally announce that it would focus on work related to tackling unrest in the South.

By comparison, the 2006 military coup cited southern unrest as among the key reasons it had rolled out the troops.

The NCPO's strategy was planned in two parts: An administration structure, and changes related to a peace dialogue with separatists.

The new proposed structure is on three levels.

The top involves NCPO chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha designating policies and guidelines, with the National Security Council (NSC) serving as adviser.

Policy implementation involves a working team, chaired by a deputy Army chief, to coordinate unrest-solving between agencies, especially the Internal Security Opera-tions Command (Isoc) and the SBPAC.

The operational level would have the Isoc Region 4's Forward Command as its primary responsible agency to propel national security and development works. SBPAC would become a front command under ISOC Region 4's Forward Command.

The peace dialogue would see adjustments to the negotiating team and regulations issued to ensure continuity. There will be no discussion about a self-administrating zone.

The changes are different from the Democrat Party-led strategy that had Isoc controlling the national security and SBPAC the development and justice works. Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the new structure emphasised national security, although it should operate along with development works and that it remained unclear about SBPAC's position in the new structure.

Political scientist Ekkarin Tuansiri, from Prince of Songkla University Pattani Campus, said the new structure bestowed most power on national security, which may not be good for development work in the long run.

He urged local people's participation, as leaving too much work in the Army's hands might yield less trust.

Yala Rajabhat University academic Tayudin Ausman urged the NCPO to allow locals with good potential to have more say in problem solving.

"We don't see civil-society participation in the new structure. These people should be participating, as they [are most familiar] with the issue."

Dalyal Abdulloh from the youth group Dream South urged the dialogue to table issues concerning local people.

"The talks between Thailand and the separatists should not overlook the people [in between]," he said, urging that the talks involve all stakeholders.


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