Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) liaison office chief Hassan Taib has told the group's rebels to scale down violence to create an atmosphere conducive to peace talks, a security source says.
If the BNR chief can convince young fighters, scenes like these will be scaled back as the government tries to establish a peaceful end to the southern conflict. (Bangkok Post file photo)
"It remains to be seen if there will be less violence. Mr Taib is apparently trying to give assurances that he is really in control," said the source who was in the delegation of the National Security Council (NSC) which signed an agreement with Mr Taib to pave the way for peace talks among insurgent groups on Feb 28 in Kuala Lumpur.
It is speculated Mr Taib will bring other groups including Pulo Bersatu to the talks when they open on March 28, the source said.
- Insurgent organisation: 'A shadow state'
He said Mr Taib has told NSC chief Paradorn Pattanatabut of his directive to the rebels.
The source said the Thai delegation led by Lt Gen Paradorn would sign the terms of reference for peace talks. The key points are that the talks must be in line with the constitution and must not advocate separatism.
The source said authorities would have to hold talks with rebel leaders in charge of operations. However, they might not be able to proceed with them publicly.
Lt Gen Paradorn on Wednesday unveiled the plan after chairing a meeting of senior security officials to prepare details for the March 28 meeting.
He said the 15-member delegation will focus on reducing violence in the troubled region and preventing attacks on civilians.
A roadmap is being drafted for the preliminary discussion, he said.
He said authorities are confident they are on the right track to stem southern violence because the BRN is the largest operational group in the region.
Lt Gen Paradorn said the selection of the 15 people to attend the meeting will be finalised tomorrow. More than 15 people have expressed an interest in taking part.
However, no military officers, apart from himself, will take part in the preliminary discussions with the BRN, he said.
Lt Gen Paradorn said it is too early to discuss the possibility of the formation of a special Pattani metropolitan administration.
He said it was an assessment made by security authorities as they considered possibilities that might come up as the peace talks progress.
He also said that as the peace talks with the rebels proceed, negotiations with other stakeholders will also take place.
The public, state authorities and the media will be engaged.
Isara News Agency (INA) reported that the new generation of southern rebels were not interested in the peace talks and did not know Mr Taib.
According to the INA's report, the rebels had no interest in a special administrative zone and would continue to wage violence until their objective was met.
A local woman also doubted that the peace talks would be fruitful.
She said teenagers who are relatives of people killed by security forces had joined the militants.
"They have been implanted with an idea. Do you really believe that they can change the idea overnight?" she said.
Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva warned the NSC to be careful when commenting on the Pattani administrative area idea.
"It's unclear if they [the rebels] can control violence, so bringing the issue up is likely to make the work harder," he said.
He also called on the government not to involve business interests in security policy, referring to deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's reported business opportunities in the deep South.
Democrat deputy leader Thaworn Senniam voiced scepticism over the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Organisation's draft royal decree to set up a public organisation which will rehabilitate local communities and develop the southern border provinces.
The Democrat MP said the proposed public organisation was not only redundant, it would also open way for "outside" intervention.
This was because Section 9(3) would allow the public organisation to accept funding from overseas, he said.
The proposed decree was linked to the idea of a Pattani metropolitan administration.
The ruling Pheu Thai Party also floated the idea of turning the deep South into a special administrative zone during the previous general election campaign.
Noppadon Pattama, a close aide to deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, denied an allegation that Thaksin was behind the special Pattani metropolitan administration plan.
He said the allegation by the Democrat Party was "fantasy".
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung on Wednesday dismissed the idea of setting up a Pattani state as impossible, saying some media outlets misunderstood Lt Gen Paradorn's remarks.
"We haven't held any talks, so where could possibly such a demand come from? It's nonsense," he said.
He declined to comment on the proposed Pattani administrative area, saying it was too soon to say.
About the author
- Writer: Post Reporters