Abhisit in favour of government-Pulo talks
- Published: 25/02/2013 at 05:37 PM
- Online news:
Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva on Monday encouraged the government to accept the Pattani United Liberation Organisation's proposal for talks on ending southern unrest, but 4th Army commander Udomchai Thammasaroraj said the separatist group really does not have a key role in the far South.
"If there are to be talks, the government needs to show that it is trustworthy and its agenda must be clearly defined," Mr Abhisit said on Monday.
The Democrat Party leader said the previous government, when he was prime minister, had held talks with members of Pulo, but the situation had not improved.
He said the violence in the deep South escalated when former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra visited Malaysia last year, and when policy makers ignored the issue and did not see the importance of visiting and meeting people in the region.
Lt-Gen Udomchai Thammasarorat (Photo by Weerawong Wongpreedee)
Thaksin is alleged to have had secret talks with a Pulo leader.
Lt-Gen Udomchai said Pulo has no important role in the far South.
The two men's comments follow a television interview during which Pulo president Kasturi Mahkota said people in the southernmost region want autonomy. He suggested talks with the government.
"Pulo is just trying to convince people that it's still powerful, but actually it has no armed force and no role in the three southern border provinces," the 4th Army commander said.
When reporters asked him about Mr Kasturi's comment that the Thai government was not sincere about wanting peace talks, he said said the only people who were not sincere were the insurgents.
"When four militants were turning themselves in to the authorities, there were people trying to convince them not to surrender. So who's not sincere?" Lt Gen Udomchai said.
Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat said Pulo's call for autonomy would not be put on the table for discussion, because it was not constitutional.
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