Southern unrest 'will ease'
Army commander-in-chief Chalermchai Sittisat is confident violent unrest in the deep South will ease over the next few years as a result of the peace process and the possible weariness of stakeholders.
"In a year or two, violence in the region could ease thanks to the peace negotiation process and weariness of those involved. I can't say when it will stop, but things will get better," he said.
He said security officials have talked to sympathisers of militant groups who might be recruited in efforts to deter them from joining the movement.
The army chief also said the overall situation in the three southernmost provinces has improved recently, judged by the decline in major violent incidents.
"The ideology seems to be weakening. The detainees are prone to talking to authorities. In the past, it took time to persuade them to talk and many simply refused. These days they are more wiling to have a discussion," he said.
The army chief said he had talked to locals during his visit in the region and learned the situation was improving. Residents felt the change and better security in their lives.
However, he said the military could not take credit for improvements in the overall situation because there are other factors involved.
Gen Chalermchai also said the army's adjustment of troops to oversee peace-keeping operations in the deep South has helped. Improvements in the situation since 2015 prompted the change in forces in which troops from outside the region are pulled out.
- Southern unrest