NSC approaches Jakarta to assist with South talks

The National Security Council (NSC) has asked Indonesia to assist with the peace talks with southern insurgent groups, a security source says.

  • Published: 25/04/2013 at 02:47 AM
  • Newspaper section: news

A protest in Yala called on the army to release a kindergarten teacher held for interrogation. (Photo by Maluding Dito)

The NSC and the armed forces have agreed in principle that Indonesia should be added to the process, the source said.

NSC secretary-general Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanatabut has sent a representative to discuss the idea with Jakarta, the source said.

However, Indonesia has not agreed to join the talks yet, the source said.

"It will take some time before Indonesia will join."

Indonesia's involvement is being considered because a number of militants in the far South are believed to have received their insurgency training there, the source said.

Lt Gen Paradorn Wednesday tried to calm concerns that the peace talks, brokered by Malaysia, would be disrupted if Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is not re-elected.

"We believe Malaysia will continue to support the process no matter who wins the election," he said. "If peace can be achieved in the region then it will benefit both countries."

The talks with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) in Kuala Lumpur will resume on Monday for a second round after the government signed an agreement with the group in February.

Lt Gen Paradorn said the number of negotiators for each side will increase from five to nine.

The government's team of delegates will have some new members, which may include justice officials, he said.

However, members of the Wadah faction will not be on the team.

The Wadah group is advising the government and Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung on the insurgency in the deep South.

The NSC chief said the situation in the restive far South remained under control in the wake of recent militant attacks that have sought to show their disapproval of the peace process.

He insisted that other insurgent groups are not opposed to the peace talks with the BRN.

"Other groups want their local men to be part of the process," he said.

"We are trying to keep the lines of communication open."

Meanwhile, the army has come under pressure to ensure justice for a female tadika teacher who was recently detained in connection with a bomb blast in Pattani's Khok Pho district on Jan 22 this year.

Fatimoh Sohman, 23, was held on Monday for questioning after a probe showed her mobile phone number was used to detonate the bomb. The explosion targeted a teacher protection unit.

Ms Fatimoh's brother, Fadel, 26, was also reportedly detained for questioning in connection with the attack.

Tadika teachers teach Islamic principles to children between the ages of five and 12 before they enrol in more formal religious schools like ponohs.

A group of tadika teachers led by Leo Jehguelee Wednesday planned to submit a petition to the Internal Security Operations Command forward centre in Pattani.

But the plan was disrupted when local villagers confronted them waving placards that read: "No violence".

The teacher group retreated, but denounced the authorities.

Army deputy spokesman, Winthai Suwaree, said authorities are strictly following proper procedure in the case.

He said Ms Fatimoh is being held under the emergency decree for suspected involvement in the blast.

Security forces are taking extreme precautions to make sure their actions will not be exploited by groups trying to stir up violence to undermine the state, Col Winthai said.

In Narathiwat, security authorities Wednesday detained a 28-year-old man suspected of the April 1 assault and robbery of a couple in Rueso district.

Yaya Madeng was allegedly part of a group of 10 men who set up a bogus checkpoint and robbed a couple in a pickup in tambon Rueso Ok.

The pickup was found abandoned four days later in tambon Reang.

Mr Yaya has denied any involvement in the incident.

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Writer: Wassana Nanuam, Patsara Jikkham and Abdulloh Benjakat

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