Thai Peace Negotiator Predicts Change in Deep South Dialogue Partners

Thai Malays in Southern Thailand

Thai Malays in Southern Thailand. Photo: Peerapat Wimolrungkarat / พีรพัฒน์ วิมลรังครัตน์) (Photographer attached to the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand (H.E.Mr.Abhisit Vejjajiva).

Thailand’s new negotiator for peace talks with insurgents in its southern border region foresees a change in dialogue partners, he told a press conference on Friday.

Gen. Wanlop Rugsanaoh said he expected the first official round of talks under his leadership to take place “soon” but did not elaborate.

In his first extended remarks on the peace talks since being appointed to lead them in September, Wanlop repeated the stance of past negotiators when he said he was seeking to speak with all parties including “groups who have influence on the operatives on the ground.”

“At our request, Malaysia has contacted those groups, which we don’t know who they are yet or who their leaders are. We need to wait and see when it is clear,” Wanlop said.

Asked if there would be a change in dialogue partners, Wanlop replied, “I personally think there will be a change … As I said, Malaysia is helping us on the arrangement.”

From August 2015 until talks ground to a halt earlier this year, Thailand was in talks with MARA Patani, an umbrella group representing various rebel groups and factions. Those talks focused on launching a ceasefire in a single district, which never occurred.

Security analysts said that key figures from the group controlling fighters on the ground, the National Revolutionary Front, or BRN, were not participating in the talks.

“We can first learn from the past roles and lessons on why the talks failed. The best way is to meet the right man so that we fix the trouble correctly,” said Thanakorn Buaras, head of Thailand’s National Intelligence Agency, one of four panelists at the press conference.

“I just want to say, in brief, please come and talk,” Thanakorn said when asked if he had a message for the BRN.

Full story: BenarNews

Pimuk Rakkanam and Araya Poejar

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