Top election candidate rejects autonomy for Thai Muslim south

A top election candidate in Thailand's upcoming polls, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has ruled out the prospect of special autonomy for Thailand's Muslim south.

Top election candidate rejects autonomy for Thai Muslim south
"In our opinion, according to our contacts, autonomy is not a demand, what they want is justice," Vejjajiva told Adnkronos International (AKI).

"Our aim is to further decentralise and at the same time, we will address the issue of past injustice," he said.

He also stressed the importance of economic growth for to the region's future. "For us, key is also economic development so that people in the south can also feel proud to be part of Thailand," he added.

Vejjajiva's statements came ahead of Sunday's general elections when Thailand's 45 million eligible voters will cast ballots in the first poll since a military coup in September last year deposed former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The two main parties in the election are the Democrat Party and the People's Power Party, newly formed by Thaksin's supporters.

Thailand's three southern provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani are the only ones with a Muslim majority, located close to Malaysia.

Local observers believe the solution to the unrest could lie in greater local autonomy for the region, especially in the areas of education and religion.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Aralık 2007, 17:05