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Security top agenda in upcoming peace talks: Thai army chief
Publication Date : 15-03-2013
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said yesterday that Thailand had the upper hand in the upcoming peace talks with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) group so people should not worry much.
"Everything will be done in step with the Constitution, national security and public safety," he said.
Many separatist groups were also interested in joining the meeting on March 28, he said.
Thai authorities have to consider the country's interests and not hurry to propose anything first, such as lifting the emergency decree in some areas. They should wait for the separatists to propose what they want first. "If they can show the capacity to bring peace to the area, then Thai authorities could grant it because we're sincere," he said.
National security officials should continue to enforce the law and beef up safety for the public because although talks were in progress, the violence hadn't ended yet.
While dialogue needs to continue, following the agreement signed by NSC chief Paradorn Pattanatabut and BRN leaders in Kuala Lumpur on February 28, it should not be construed as boosting the status of rebels.
Thai representatives should not give the insurgents so much credit that they gain an advantage over the state. "If they can't solve the problem, we should just stop talking," he said.
The timeframe for the separatists to prove their capacity could be a year, because the March 28 talks could not bring a halt to the violence in the region right away, he added.
Defence Minister Sukhampol Suwannathat also said the March 28 talks with the BRN couldn't totally stop the violence yet.
The consultations were seeking a solution under the Thai constitution, not necessarily a ceasefire, he said.
Sitthipong Chantharaviroj, head of the Foundation of Muslim Lawyers Centre, said the officials should listen to local people's opinions.
The "Patani Metropolis" idea wasn't a final solution because people wanted justice first and then drug suppression. The special administrative zone would came later because they still didn't know what form it would take. A dozen civil organisations would this month brainstorm recommendations and report to the government, he said.
Violence in the region continued yesterday with the torching of three CCTV cameras in Tambon Ban Hae of Yala's Than To district at 3am.
In Narathiwat's Rangae district, an assistant village headman, Mayakoh Samae, 45, was shot deat by two men on a motorbike.