New panel set to discuss Karen row

New panel set to discuss Karen row

The committee formed to find a solution to the land dispute between a Karen community in Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi and forest protection authorities will hold its first meeting tomorrow, Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thamanat Prompow said on Tuesday.

The panel was formed last week after protesters staged a recent protest outside Government House and comprises representatives from all sides concerned in the longstanding dispute.

Tomorrow's meeting comes amid a new controversy connected to the dispute.

Bang Kloi-Jai Paen Din villagers and the People's Movement for a Just Society (P-Move) have demanded that Prasan Wangrattanapranie, an assistant to Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, be removed from the government team also set up to try and settle the row.

Villagers claim he insulted them by accusing them of growing marijuana during a visit to Bang Kloi-Jai Paen Din village last Thursday.

As a result Mr Prason told reporters on Monday at Government House he would play no further role in government efforts to find a resolution and only Capt Thamanat's committee will be dealing with the matter.

Capt Thamanat said Mr Prasan wasn't a part of his committee and that he had asked him to step back from the issue to avoid making the situation worse.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa, meanwhile, said the tasks given to his ministry to help the Karen villagers were nearly all done, but some will not likely be finished on time, he said.

The ministry is responsible for handling water supplies for farming and finding new farmland for the villagers, he said.

The ministry is required to complete this work within a month, but he said some elements would almost certainly not be completed on time.

He said, he could not set an exact time frame as to when everything will take as some parts of the work deal with laws that existed before his ministry was established.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has said that while an agreement reached last week between the government and the Karen villagers is being implemented, the government is still willing to listen to opinions from all other sides regarding the government's handling of the problem.

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