108-day 'ceasefire' proposed
A cessation of violence for 108 days has been proposed by the Thai delegation during the latest round of peace talks with the southern separatist group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) in Malaysia.
This is the latest attempt to curtail violence in the deep South after the so-called Ramadan peace initiative, in which both sides agreed to halt all violence during the Islamic month of fasting from April 3 to May 14, said Gen Wanlop Rugsanoh, head of Thailand's Peace Dialogue Panel.
The proposed violence-free period would run from Aug 15 to Nov 30 and is being referred to as the Buddhist Lent peace initiative as it would cover much of that period which runs from July 14 to Oct 10.
However, Gen Wanlop said the proposal cannot be finalised during the talks as further details have to be fleshed out, and the issue is expected to be discussed in October. Technical meetings will be held this and next month ahead of the next planned meeting in October.
According to the Thai delegation chief, the Buddhist Lent peace initiative is an elevation of the Ramadan initiative, so methods and indicators have to be defined and a working panel will be set up for monitoring and evaluation.
"[It] may take place during the last month of Buddhist Lent. Both sides insist on the need to reduce violence and if it works, it would be a major step forward to ending all hostilities and violence in the region," he said.
Gen Wanlop said both sides assessed the implementation of the Ramadan peace initiative and agreed it was successfully observed.
The latest round of peace talks took place on Aug 1-2 in Kuala Lumpur.
Brokered by the Malaysian government, which has renewed the term of Abdul Rahim bin Mohamad Noor as facilitator until August next year, the talks were attended by BRN representative Anas Abdulrahmah and two observers.
Gen Wanlop said the Thai government is willing to hold peace talks with other insurgent groups including the Patani United Liberation Organisation (Pulo), believed responsible for a bomb attack on April 15.
- Deep South