Thai PM unrelenting on southern peace process

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BANGKOK, March 1 – A bomb blast in Thailand’s southern province of Narathiwat early this morning was not a retaliation against a preliminary peace deal between the government and a Muslim insurgent group, the Thai prime minister said today.

Yingluck Shinawatra said the explosion was a normal incident in the ongoing insurgency and that the agreement with a southern militant group in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday will not instantly resolve the unrest in the far South.

A blast near a fresh market in Narathiwat early this morning injured a soldier and six civilians. Investigating police found a motorcycle which they thought had held the bomb. The motorcycle’s owner filed a complaint with police in Ra-ngae district in December that it was stolen.

The Thai prime minister said the agreement signed by the National Security Council (NSC) and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) militant group on Thursday was a starting point for further talks to resolve the southern crisis without any legal obligation.

“The NSC and southern authorities will be in charge of the talks while the government takes a supervisory role,” she said. “The process can be called off if it is unsuccessful.”

Regarding opposition criticism of the Kuala Lumpur agreement, Ms Yingluck said the attempt should not be interpreted as a political agenda. The opposition is welcome to join in the peace process.