A future ceasefire in southern Thailand could be annulled if more than three violent incidents occur in a district selected for the experimental truce, according to a Thai negotiator, but a rebel spokesman said insurgents had not approved this condition.
After exploratory peace talks in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 28, negotiators from the Thai side and a panel representing Deep South rebel groups announced a framework for a so-called safety zone, or limited ceasefire, which would take hold in a one of the districts of Thailand’s war-stricken southern border region.
The safety zone will take at least three months to set up and implement, and will serve as a test to see if the concept can work there and in other areas of the Deep South, officials from both sides have said. Neither side has named any of the five districts in three provinces from which one district will be picked for a ceasefire.
Yet during a press briefing in Bangkok on Thursday, a military officer who serves as secretary of the Thai negotiation team claimed both sides had agreed to placing a condition on the truce related to violence in the Deep South.
“The delineation of a safety zone is one measure of testing mutual trust between the government and the dissidents, which, at present, is not quite there yet,” Maj. Gen. Sitthi Trakulwong told reporters at the Bangkok headquarters of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, referring to separatist insurgents in the predominantly Muslim and Malay-speaking Deep South.
“However, it is understood that there are other factors to the violence other than the insurgent groups –namely, opportunistic threats such as drugs, oil-smuggling and local politicians. Therefore there is an initial agreement that, in a safety zone, there can be no more than three violent incidents taking place,” he said.
Should acts of violence interrupt the ceasefire in the chosen district, both the Thai and rebels side would need to conduct joint investigations, he said.
“But if we cannot identify the culprits, the safety zone is cancelled,” Sitthi warned.
Full story: BenarNews
Araya Poejar and Razlan Rashid
Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur
Copyright ©2017, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.