Thailand to unilaterally review TOR of Deep South peace talks

Bangkok is going to unilaterally review the terms of reference (TOR) of the peace dialogue with Muslim Malay insurgents. Meanwhile, delegates of the insurgents groups are disappointed with junta leader disparagement of the talks.    
On Saturday, 7 May 2016, Gen Aksara Kerdphol, the new head of Thailand’s peace talks team, said that the National Security Council will host a meeting to review the TOR of the Deep South peace talks and will invite representatives from various government agencies, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, and the National Intelligence Agency to the meeting, reported Dailynews. 
Last month Bangkok had almost reached an agreement with the insurgents on the TOR, which basically set the rules for further talks. That ended abruptly when Lt Gen Nakrob Bunbuathong, then head of the Thai delegation to the peace talks, was removed from his post. 
According to Rungravee Chalermsripinyorat, an expert on the Deep South conflict, his removal seems to have had a considerable impact on the talks, since delegates on the other side felt comfortable working with him. 
Aksara said that the TOR needed to be reviewed to ensure that the peace talks comply with international law and satisfy every sector. 
“There was a disagreement between the two sides. Their side wants a ceasefire first followed by confidence-building measures. We think that this method is odd. If they want us to trust them, the insurgents must be gone and people must be safe first,” Dailynews quoted Aksara as saying. 
According to the Deep South Journalist School, Shukri Hari, head of Mara Patani, the umbrella organization of independence movements, recently said on behalf of Mara Patani that he was concerned by the speech of the PM which discouraged the peace talks even though he is optimistic about collaboration with the Thai government over the TOR and Roadmap. 
“The Thai PM has said that in a sense that the peace talks are only a false promise despite the fact that we are in the process of confidence-building,” said Shukri.
On 29 April 2016, Khaosod reported that Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta head and PM, said that the peace talks were very difficult to achieve since the agendas of both sides were different and the government would not negotiate with people who broke the law. 
“We always avoid talks but the previous government wanted it so I am resolving it right now,” Khaosod quoted Prayut as saying.
Gen Aksara Kerdphol (left) and Shukri Hari (right) (source: Deep South Journalist School)

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