Malaysia pledges to reboot peace in southern Thailand

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak describes plan to restart peace dialogue in Thailand's Muslim-majority south

Malaysia pledges to reboot peace in southern Thailand

World Bulletin / News Desk

Malaysia outlined a three-pronged strategy Monday to create a stabile peace in Thailand’s conflict-torn south, local media reported.

During a one-day visit by Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak detailed proposals to bring an end to the decades-old violence in Thailand’s Muslim-majority southern provinces.

Razak told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur: “Both countries have mutually agreed to the idea mooted by Malaysia. We propose that the peace effort must be approached using three basic principles.”

The Malaysian prime minister said these were a period free of violence; the representation of all parties in the peace talks; and all parties agreeing to a list of demands to be put to the Thai government.

Referring to Chan-ocha by his army rank, which he resigned after the military seized power in May and he was appointed premier, Razak said: “General Prayut has also assured me that he will order the Thai army to reduce its presence in the south if violence is discontinued.

“Secondly, we agreed that it is important that not just one party but all parties be represented in the peace process.”

He added: “All the parties must agree to the list of demands or requests that they wish to put forward to the Thai government. That would be the basis of starting the actual substantive negotiations with the Thai government.”

However, neither government identified which groups would take part in the negotiations. Some insurgents have mostly abandoned their violent struggle for greater autonomy in southern Thailand while others, such as the National Revolutionary Front, are still fighting security forces.

The plan is the Thai junta’s first overt effort at restarting peace talks abandoned by the previous civilian government of Yingluck Shinawatra.

The provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and part of Songkhla province were annexed by Buddhist-majority Thailand, then known as Siam, in the 19th century. Around 80 percent of the population are Muslim and speak Malay as their first language.

Conflict flared in the 1960s when Bangkok tried to exert control over Islamic schools and in 2004 rejuvenated militant groups launched attacks on the Thai state and civilians. More than 6,000, mostly civilians, have been killed in the last ten years.

On Monday Thailand recognized Malaysia's role in the peace talks, with Chan-ocha affirming Malaysia as the only nation his government would work with, Razak said.

Razak gave no timetable for the resumption of negotiations. "When you sit down and discuss such complex matters, it will take time,” he said. “It is important that we give them impetus based on these three principles.”

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Aralık 2014, 16:46