Facilitator: Peace talks back on track soon

PATTANI, The peace dialogue to end violence in southern Thailand is expected to be resumed in about two weeks in Malaysia, said Malaysian facilitator, Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor.

Abdul Rahim, who was on a visit to southern Thailand, namely, to Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, had held meetings with the parties concerned including the security forces and local elected representatives in the effort to find peace in the four Thai provinces.

”As the facilitator, we want to know their commitment (Thai government, Majlis Syura Patani (Mara Patani) and the other armed groups) in a discussion which is to be held soon.

”If there are no obstacles, the peace dialogue will be held in two more weeks in Penang, Malaysia,” he told reporters here today.

The peace dialogue, which was disrupted since February until the completion of the Thailand General Election on March 24, was expected to be resumed following disappointments (of Mara Patani) with the action of the Thai government negotiating panel chief General Udomchai Thammasarorat who refused to meet the negotiating panel of Mara Patani in Kuala Lumpur.

Until to date, about 7,000 people had been killed in the conflict in four provinces in southern Thailand – Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala and Songkhla.

Since several years ago, Mara Patani, which represented several groups of fighters in southern Thailand had held peace negotiations with the Thai government to find a solution to the conflict which had dragged since 2004.

On the resignation of the Mara Patani negotiating panel chief, Shukri hari, Abdul Rahim said that the peace dialogue to seek peace in the turbulent provinces would still be continued.

”I don’t know why Shukri stepped down and who is going to replace him. Whatever it is, the peace talk will continue, he said.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)