Army chief: South well under control
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Army chief: South well under control

The situation in the far South is well under control and the unrest escalates only whenever the government makes progress in its moves to bring about peace, army chief and Deputy Defence Minister Udomdej Sitabutr said on Tuesday.

Army chief Udomdej Sitabutr

Speaking before the cabinet meeting at Government House, Gen Udomdej said some insurgent groups tried to stir up trouble whenever the government was implementing some useful initiative to help settle the southern problem .

He did not think such attempts had any significant  impact.

The army chief was responding to questions about the   string of arson and bomb attacks, and the raising of dozens of anti-government banners, in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat provinces on Monday when Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha visited Malaysia to discuss preparations for southern peace negotiations.

Gen Udomdej said the authorities could control the  overall situation in the far South, and the incidence of violence had actually dropped year-on-year in October.

He believed the situation would improve still further when government agencies implement more development projects that meet the needs of local people next year.

National Security Council secretary-general Anusit Kunakorn said Gen Aksara Kerdpol, the government's leading southern peace negotiator, would discuss preparations for fresh talks with Malaysian authorities in December. A date could then be set for a new round of negotiations with southern insurgency movements.

Mr Anusit said all insurgency groups were welcome to take part in the peace negotiations. However, he admitted none had yet made an approach to do so.

He viewed insurgents as being Thai people who had different opinions and expressed them in a violent manner.

The government was trying to solve their problems in appropriate ways with development projects and negotiations, the NSC secretary-general said.

Mr Anusit also said that Malaysia had positive and sincere responses to Thailand's moves for southern peace talks. The negotiations would happen between Thai authorities and insurgency representatives, while Malaysia would limit its role to facilitation. 

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