Refer demands to Malaysia, Thai separatist group told

BRN

BANGKOK: The Thai government has told Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), a separatist organisation based in the country’s Muslim-majority southern region, to convey its negotiation demands to Malaysia.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said any proposal which touched on the peace process must be brought up to Malaysia as the facilitator of the ongoing discussions between the government and rebel groups in the south.

“They (BRN) must propose it through Malaysia as Malaysia is the facilitator of the talks.

“We cannot talk with any party in Thailand that is listed as an insurgent group, so they need to find a solution there,” he told reporters here today.

Pattani-based BRN, which is seen by many as the most influential and capable militant group in southern Thailand, issued a rare statement yesterday in which it outlined three key demands to ensure success in the peace talks.

Bangkok has been engaged in a peace process with Mara Patani (Patani Consultative Council), an umbrella body of several southern Thai groups, excluding the BRN, facilitated by Kuala Lumpur, in a bid to end the conflict in the region.

The first demand, as stipulated by BRN, was for the peace dialogue to be based on the willingness of the two sides in the conflict to have the participation of third parties as witnesses and observers.

The second demand was for the appointment of a credible mediator, while a third demand was for the negotiation process to be designed by the involved parties and agreed upon before commencement of the peace talks.

On BRN’s demand for participation from the international community in the peace process, Prayut dismissed it by saying that there was no need for their involvement.

“Why? Our country cannot resolve our problem? If they (international community) are involved (in the peace process), will they understand the problem?”

The parties involved in the negotiations must trust the Thai government, which has given its commitment to end the violence, he said.

The conflict in Thailand’s four southern provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla has resulted in more than 6,000 deaths over the past two decades.

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