Peace talks lack direction | Bangkok Post: opinion

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Peace talks lack direction

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It has been more than four months since the government agreed to discuss the possibility of peace in the deep South with a separatist group. The Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) has espoused violence against Thai authorities and citizens for five decades. The peace talks with the Malaysian group have yet to achieve anything. The government has yet to set a negotiating policy, and the talks will continue to meander until it does. 

The talks with the BRN represent the first serious effort to consider an acceptable settlement in the southern region. But they have failed to win full government backing as national policy. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has said several times that she backs the talks, but has not put the peace talks on the national agenda. Her own cabinet ministers often seem split over the talks, or even confused.

The talks were arranged and initiated by the National Security Council (NSC), and by the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC). NSC chief Paradorn Pattanatabut has become the official negotiator, with SBPAC secretary-general Thawee Sodsong his key deputy. This still must be considered an interim team. The NSC, by law and practice, advises the government, but never makes policy.

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