PM’s dual defence role a boon to solving southern violence

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BANGKOK, July 2 – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s move to take the concurrent post of defence minister will lead to prompt decisions in tackling the southern unrest, according to a senior security officer.

Charoon Ampa, adviser to the National Security Council (NSC), said the southern situation should improve with direct and up-to-the-minute orders by the prime minister/defence minister.

Ms Yingluck has become the first female defence minister in Thailand’s history following the latest cabinet reshuffle which took effect Sunday.

Col Charoon said the Thai security forces will reply to the seven demands proposed by militant group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) after the fasting month of Ramadan ends on August 7.

“We are studying if it is possible to follow the demands, but we definitely disagree with withdrawal of military troops from the far South,” he said.

“The local administration may be assigned to take over security mission from the military if the situation improves. The Interior Ministry must be 90 per cent ready for the job.”

Tanathip Sawangsaeng, Defence Ministry spokesman, said all agencies responsible for peacekeeping in the South expressed condolence to the families of the eight soldiers who died in a militant attack in Krong Pinang district of Yala on Sunday.

He said 816 newly-recruited police will be dispatched to the South soon to provide security to southern people and assist in educational development projects.

He said personnel of the Internal Security Operation Command will be on special alert during the holy month of Ramadan, July 9 to August 7, and provide conveniences to Thai Muslims leaving their homes to go to mosques for religious ceremonies.