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Peace Talks Revolution: Thai Coalition Government Shakes Up Approach to End Decades-Long Insurgency – Will It Succeed?

The latest panel discussion, focusing on the preparation of strategies for the ambitious next coalition government, addressed measures to combat the ongoing insurgency in southern Thailand, according to a Move Forward MP-elect representative. The second meeting of the panel took place at the Prachachart Party’s headquarters on Monday, following its initial meeting at Move Forward headquarters last week.

Monday’s meeting was led by Prachachart secretary-general Thawee Sodsong and attended by representatives from the eight coalition partners, including Move Forward’s Ramadon Panjor, Pheu Thai’s Paradorn Pattanathabutr, Fair Party secretary-general Kannawe Suebsaeng, and Thai Sang Thai’s Chavalit Wichayasut.

Ramadon explained that they discussed urgent actions to be taken within the first 100 days of the Move Forward-led coalition government and plans for the government’s four-year term. For almost 20 years, southern Thailand has been plagued by violence since an army barrack was attacked and firearms stolen on January 4, 2004.

He suggested that the insurgency should be tackled in a similar way to how communism was addressed after 15 years of struggle between 1965 and 1980. The government had issued an order absolving all former communist insurgents. Additionally, the panel explored alternative ways of confronting the insurgency, such as changing the format of informal peace talks between the government and the umbrella group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN).

Ramadon stated that the panel agreed to transform the talks into a formal peace dialogue, demonstrating the government’s genuine commitment to bringing peace to the South. This formal peace dialogue will also show the international community that the incoming government is serious about establishing peace in the predominantly Muslim deep South, further highlighting a different approach from the next civilian government in addressing the southern situation.

The outgoing government had previously rejected the idea of holding formal peace talks due to concerns that doing so would grant global recognition to the insurgents. However, Ramadon also mentioned that the meeting examined the state of emergency and other special laws implemented to control the violence in the South. “The panel believes it is time to stop implementing these special mechanisms to ensure the public’s safety,” Ramadon declared.

In its first three months, the next government might decide whether to extend the emergency decree in Yala, Narathiwat, Pattani, and four districts of Songkhla. However, the working panel must consider the opinions of affected individuals, including the Buddhist community in the South.

The new government may also reevaluate the status of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre, which manages the administration of the deep South. “The working panel is still discussing these issues,” Ramadon added. He also emphasized that the next government would prioritize public safety and freedom of expression before deciding on the final measures for the deep South.

Ramadon dismissed accusations that Move Forward supports the idea of the deep South becoming an independent state, stating that this is not possible under the Thai Constitution.

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