Government, Opposition meetings to counter insurgency: Chalerm

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BANGKOK, Sept 19 – Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said Wednesday that a video conference between opposition Democrat Party and senior security officials will be held to share opinions on violence in Thailand’s insurgency-torn southern border region.

Mr Chalerm spoke following Tuesday’s meeting between Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her cabinet members with the opposition and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and Democrat party MPs for the southern border provinces to resolve the long-standing problem in the ethnic Malay, Muslim-majority South, especially in Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani.

The deputy premier said as of now additional 4,500 police have been deployed in the restive region and that he would invite Democrat deputy leader Thavorn Senneam and Gen Sondhi Boonyaratglin, former deputy premier and ex-army chief, to join the teleconference with local officials, residents and religious leaders to hear their voices.

Mr Chalerm added that the Democrats’ proposal was in the same direction as that of the National Security Council, while reaffirming that the newly-set up Operation Centre on Solutions to Problems in Three Southern Provinces will not duplicate the work of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC), as feared by the opposition.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Yuthasak Sasiprapa reaffirmed the government is willing to hear the nine-point proposal of the Democrats as both also share some similar ideas.

Prime Minister Yingluck heeds Mr Abhisit’s recommendations and is willing to improve the government’s performance to tackle unrest in deep South, said Gen Yuthasak, adding that the premier wants to raise the southern unrest issue as a national agenda which needs participation from all parties.

Gen Yuthasak said a similar meeting between the government and the opposition will be held again if there is any ‘secret agenda’ which requires discussions between political parties, while development issues will be held among concerned MPs.