Little development in peace talks prompts govt to rethink process

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BANGKOK, June 12 – Thailand may review the ongoing peace process with southern Muslim militant leaders if tomorrow’s dialogues make no progress, Thailand’s security chief said today. 

Paradorn Patanatabut, National Security Council (NSC) secretary general, said the main issue for the third round of peace talks with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) leaders in Kuala Lumpur will remain unchanged – Thailand’s desire for less violence in the kingdom’s three southern border provinces.

He said the Thai security delegation will today wrap up proposals and opinions garnered from southern people on solutions to the unrest to be raised in tomorrow’s meeting.

“I will produce the names of about 1,000 people arrested under the Emergency Decree and the Internal Security Act to show the Thai authorities’ willingness to treat them with justice. However, some southern people disagreed with the leniency and insisted that wrongdoers must be legally punished,” Gen Paradorn said.

He said a proposal by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to designate Thailand’s southernmost provinces as a “special administrative region” will not be raised in tomorrow’s peace talks.

The principle of a special administrative region is to allow southern people to have a voice in the peace process under the framework of the constitution, he said, and not to separate the region from the country as earlier proposed by the BRN.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said the Thai security delegation may have to review its guiding principle for the peace talks or move on to hold talks with other militant groups if the ongoing dialogues fail to make progress.

Lt Gen Paradorn said he would wait until tomorrow’s meeting before deciding if the peace process will be reviewed, or if the peace talks be put on hold temporarily.