OIC pledges to help boost peace efforts

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has welcomed the government's peace dialogue with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) and pledges support to any initiatives that lead to peace and stability in the South, according to the OIC website.

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Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her entourage, including Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, discussed the southern situation with Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the OIC in Istanbul on Saturday.

It was the first meeting between the top official of the global Muslim representative organisation and Ms Yingluck.

The prime minister pledged to work with the OIC on the issue of the southern border provinces and emphasised her wish to secure peace and stability in the region, the OIC website said.

Mr Ihsanoglu encouraged authorities to accelerate the process of confidence-building measures and to address the root causes of the problem through a comprehensive approach based on empowering the population of the southern provinces.

They should assume the responsibilities for their internal affairs through a system that allows residents to exercise their cultural and linguistic specificities and manage their natural resources under the full respect for the country's constitution and territorial integrity, the OIC said. He further welcomed the steps of the government, in cooperation with Malaysia, to start a constructive dialogue with the BRN.

Mr Ihsanoglu hoped this dialogue "will expand and be more inclusive so that other organisations and groups representing Muslims in southern Thailand can participate".

Prime Minister Yingluck said the government was in the process of lifting the emergency law in five areas following a process of consultation with local communities.

Progress had also been made in the field of education where government schools and religious learning centres catering to the local population had been established in the South earlier this year, she told the OIC secretary-general.

She also reiterated that Thailand would like to see OIC support in its endeavour towards peaceful solutions to the problems of the South.

She said that after several meetings the government had agreed with armed insurgent groups in the South for a ceasefire to take place during the Holy month of Ramadan.

Mr Ihsanoglu said the OIC supported all peaceful initiatives that guaranteed the rights of citizens and developed mutual understanding, dialogue and cooperation for the betterment of all communities in Thailand.

He also expressed the willingness of the OIC to contribute to the process of confidence-building, dialogue and economic development in the region through the support of the Islamic Development Bank and other OIC organs and agencies.

Both sides, however, stopped short of referring to one of the BRN demands that the OIC become an observer to the Malaysia-brokered peace talks.

About the author

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Writer: Achara Ashayagachat
Position: Senior Reporter