Peace panels 'to remain inclusive'

Peace panels 'to remain inclusive'

Gen Wanlop assesses KL peace talks

PHUKET: The joint working committees aimed at thrashing out essential points in a framework for additional rounds of peace talks in the South will work in a semi-formal manner and maintain an inclusive setting, according to a Thai government representative.

The Thai delegation, led by Gen Wanlop Rugsanaoh, and representatives of BRN, headed by Anas Abdulrahman, met in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday and Wednesday and agreed the framework will serve as basis for future negotiations.

Addressing the results of the peace talks on Saturday in Phuket, Gen Wanlop said both sides have agreed on a framework that touches on violence reduction, public participation and political solutions.

Three joint working groups -- one for each area -- will be appointed to carry out the peace process, and they will comprise coordinators to ensure smooth and flexible talks that will lead to substantive results.

Gen Wanlop said the violence reduction aspect will comply with the wishes of the local people as it is a precursor for permanent peace.

The working groups are expected to work in a semi-formal setting to allow members of both sides of the conflict to meet and discuss related issues.

A close discussion could also help reduce loopholes in subsequent rounds of talks on specific issues, Gen Wanlop said.

Each working group is expected to hold talks every 2–3 months, depending on the Covid-19 pandemic situation, he said.

Also, 4th Army Region commander Lt Gen Kriangkrai Srilak said the peace dialogue will involve the opening of forums to hear input from locals.

The hearings are made possible with the help of coordination groups on the ground, he said, adding the peace process will consider diverse segments of the local population in the South such as women's groups, professionals, academics and religious figures.

"Being receptive to people's views makes for a helpful and practical approach in forging peace in the far South," Lt Gen Kriangkrai said, adding that loss of life had dropped by 33% last year compared to the year before.

Thai authorities had adjusted security measures, including removing a number of checkpoints perceived by some locals as a sign of excessive control, he said.

However, other checkpoints must be maintained for effective law enforcement and protection of public safety, he said.

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