New peace envoy meets Thai general
published : 4 Feb 2023 at 04:00
newspaper section: News
writer: Wassana Nanuam
A new Malaysian facilitator for the Thai deep South peace talks met Gen Wanlop Rugsanaoh, head of Thailand's Peace Dialogue Panel, in Bangkok to continue the peace process.
On Friday, Gen Zulkifli Zainal Abidin met Gen Wanlop at a hotel in Bangkok on the occasion of Gen Zulkifli's assumption of the role.
According to a Malaysian source, Gen Zulkifli is a former chief of defence forces. He was appointed as the new Malaysian chief facilitator for the peace dialogue process in southern Thailand on Jan 1 to replace Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Mohd Noor, whose service ended on Dec 31 last year.
This time around, both parties discussed various matters -- including guidelines for future discussions on the troubles in the deep South, including Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat provinces, a source said.
Hopes remain that the Joint Comprehensive Plan Towards Peace (JCPP) may lead to a ceasefire with Malay-Muslim separatist groups in Thailand's southernmost provinces this year.
The new facilitator also informed Thailand that the official discussion of the new peace dialogue panel would be held in Kuala Lumpur during Feb 21-22 to discuss the matter.
The source also said the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) separatist movement or the National Revolutionary Front would be invited, and a team sent by the Malaysian facilitator would help coordinate with other groups.
According to a report from the Malaysian National News Agency, Gen Zulkifli, 65, is a trained sniper and an expert in tactical weapons and anti-insurgency operations.
He served in the Malaysian army for more than 40 years, having started his career in 1978. He was appointed the army chief in 2011 and became chief of the defence forces in 2018. He retired in 2020.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim will visit Thailand on Feb 9-10 following talks with his chief facilitator for peace in the deep South, according to a security source.
In Thailand, Mr Anwar will meet Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon to discuss security cooperation between the two countries, the source said.
Talks between negotiators re- presenting Thailand's government and insurgents in the largely Muslim and ethnic Malay southern border region were informally put on hold while Malaysia -- which for years has brokered the talks -- held a general election in November.
- deep South