Deputy PM, Army Chief travel to deep south

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BANGKOK, Oct 3 Deputy Prime Minister/Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan flew to Thailand’s insurgency-impacted deep south today to meet with senior army officers in the region, aimed at ending the bloody violence there which resumed more than a decade ago.

Accompanied by newly appointed army chief Gen Udomdej Sitabutr and Anusit Kunakorn, secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC), Gen Prawit will first attend a meeting with high-ranking army officers at Sirindhorn Army Camp in Pattani’s Yarang district.

He is scheduled to present operations policy to the army officers before proceeding to inspect army operations in nearby Yala province.

Gen. Prawit told journalists before his departure that resolving unrest in the southern border provinces is in line with the order given by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.

He said army chief Gen Udomdej, as deputy director of the Internal Security Operations Command, is tasked with supervising operations in the deep South.

Touching on the appointment of the Thai government team negotiating with representatives of insurgent groups, aimed at ending the renewed violence centred in the three southern provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat since January 2004, Gen Prawit said the cabinet, NSC and the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre must first discuss and decide whether the chief of the team should be a military officer or an NSC official.

Eventually, Prime Minister Gen Prayut will make the final decision, he said, adding that so far such a meeting has not been held.