Thai Chief Negotiator: Peace Talks with Southern Rebels to Push On

Malay-Muslim men in southern Thailand

Malay-Muslim men in southern Thailand. Image: udeyismail.

Two-year-old negotiations with southern rebels will proceed despite reports suggesting that the peace process likely has stalled, Thailand’s chief negotiator said Wednesday.

But an insurgent in the troubled Deep South told BenarNews that rebel attacks would go on anyhow, and in spite of talks aimed at implementing a limited ceasefire.

Aksara Kerdpol, the government’s chief negotiator, blamed local news media for causing public confusion after the delegation that he heads and representatives of MARA Patani, a panel representing insurgent groups in the Thai Deep South, failed in September to iron out disagreements on the creation of a “safety zone,” or an area for a limited ceasefire.

“I reaffirm that the peace is going on, no problem. The other side did not have any problem with it either,” Aksara, a retired army general, told BenarNews in a phone interview. “The media reports or analyses in recent weeks are based on outdated information.”

The retired army general leads a team that has represented the Thai junta in Malaysia-brokered peace talks with MARA since 2015, but both sides have yet to implement a ceasefire after many rounds of closed-door meetings in Kuala Lumpur.

This has led some observers to question whether MARA’s panelists have control over rebel forces operating in the Deep South, and whether they truly represent the rank-and-file of separatist groups such as Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the most powerful of active rebel organizations. The talks have not stopped violence in the region.

Full story: BenarNews

Nontarat Phaicharoen and Mariyam Ahmad
Bangkok and Pattani, Thailand

Copyright ©2017, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.

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