Royal Thai Government and Commander-In-Chief of RTA denys that Thailand has send delegates to Indonesia to meet with Southern militant leader, citing that the former 4th region army privately paticipates the meeting.
Govt ‘not party’ to peace talks
Southerners, Samak adviser meet in Bogor
BANGKOK POST AND AGENCIES
A fresh dialogue called in a bid to end the southern unrest was held in Indonesia over the weekend but the Thai government says it is not involved.
The talks were mediated by Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla at the Presidential Palace in Bogor, presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal said.
He said five representatives from the deep South and negotiators from Bangkok attended the two-day meeting, which ended yesterday.
He did not identify the southerners, but said the Bangkok delegation included Kwanchart Klaharn, a former Fourth Army commander. In February, Gen Kwanchart was appointed by cabinet as an adviser to then-defence minister Samak Sundaravej.
Gen Kwanchart is thought to be among the names put forward for the defence portfolio in Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat’s new cabinet line-up, if Mr Somchai decides not to concurrently take the post.
However, Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said the government was not involved in any talks in Indonesia and it had not asked Jakarta to act as a mediator.
“We did not send any representatives to Indonesia,” Mr Tharit said.
“Our position is that the situation in the South is an internal conflict and we will not set up any talks with the militants.”
Mr Kalla met the delegations one after the other in a corridor separating the palace’s Bung Karno meeting room and library, Antara news agency reported. The Bangkok delegation, which had been waiting in the right wing room, entered the corridor first and shook hands with Mr Kalla. Minutes later, the delegation from the South entered the corridor from the left wing room and also shook hands with him.
Representatives were asked by Mr Kalla to “shake hands with one another before talking”.
The event was observed by scholars from Indonesia’s Paramadina University and Indonesian ambassador to Thailand Mohammad Hatta.
A senior army officer told Issara news agency the talks grew out of cooperation between Thailand and Indonesia on tackling the insurgency.
“Mr Kalla talked about the issue with former prime minister Samak when he made an official visit to Indonesia early this year,” he said.
It is expected that Jakarta’s success in securing a permanent ceasefire in Aceh would be a model for Thailand to solve the insurgency in the far South. In June this year, cabinet assigned the Interior Ministry and the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre to study the solution in Aceh.
Earlier this year, former army chief and Ruam Jai Thai Chart Pattana leader Gen Chettha Thanajaro, a former defence minister, was criticised after he announced a joint ceasefire with a group called Thailand United Southern Underground, claiming to represent 11 separatist groups in the region.
Army officials and security experts dismissed the ceasefire as a publicity stunt, and the violence did not stop.
Srisompob Chitpiromsri, director of the Songkhla-based Southern Watch Centre, yesterday called on the government to release more information about the talks.
“My worry is the rebel group at the talks has no direct involvement in the southern violence,” he said.
Pattani Islamic Committee chairman Waedueramae Mamingi said he had not been informed of the weekend’s talks.
“It will give hope to villagers in the area,” he said.
His province encountered the most cases of daily violence last month, according to the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4.
In August, 45 people were killed and 136 injured in the violence.