BRN militant group to change negotiators for peace talks with Thailand

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BANGKOK, Oct 3 – The Muslim militant group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) has informed Thailand via Malaysia of its desire to change representatives for peace talks on solutions to the long-standing problem and violence in the country’s far South, a senior Thai security official said today.

Paradorn Pattanatabut, secretary general of the National Security Council (NSC), said the personnel change would not have an impact on the peace dialogues which have been held for three rounds with Malaysia acting as facilitator but the already-built relationship between the two sides could be slightly affected.

Malaysia has confirmed the BRN desire but said details would be given later after explanations were given by the Muslim organisation, he said.

He said the change in representatives for the talks reflected the BRN’s disunity, but it was confirmed that the majority of BRN members supported peace dialogues.

Some factions have opposed dialogues with the Thai authorities, including a militant group under the leadership of Sapae-ing Basoh which is apparently having some internal disagreement, said Lt Gen Paradorn.

The date of the next round of peace talks should be clear by next week and Thailand will add experts on religion and history, and academics on the Thai side for talks, he said.

The NSC chief would neither confirm nor deny a report that the faction of Sapae-in Basoh has unwillingly agreed to join the peace talks after it was pressured by ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak to play a role.

“I have no knowledge of the report but we are always ready to talk if BRN leaders want to talk with us,” he said.

He added that the BRN’s five demands have been translated into English by Malaysian facilitator, and they were not demands made by Malaysia.

Regarding a report that Thai security officials met with leaders of the Pattani United Liberation Organisation (PULO) in Sweden, Lt Gen Paradorn said it was a normal act of duty with security agencies acting as coordinators but principles of the talks must be in accord with the peace dialogues with the BRN.