By Linda Khoo Hui Li
BANGKOK, May 21 (Bernama) -- With significant progress made of late, Thailand has thanked Malaysia for its role as the facilitator to the peace talks in ending the decades old conflict in south Thailand.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan conveyed this to former Malaysian inspector general of police Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Mohd Noor, during a meeting in Bangkok on Friday. Abdul Rahim had acted as the facilitator in the talks.
In a statement, the Peace Dialogue Panel for the Southern Border Provinces of Thailand (PEDP) said Prawit also expressed gratitude and appreciation to Abdul Rahim who played an important role in pushing forward the peace talks.
“The talks (between Thai government and armed group, Barisan Revolusi Nasional - BRN) has made a concrete progress and achieved an important milestone that brings hope of ending the violence in southern border provinces of Thailand,” the statement said.
Earlier, Abdul Rahim had paid a courtesy call on Prawit at the Government House on Friday. Also present was General Wanlop Rugsanaoh who headed the PEDP.
The latest talk between the Thai government and BRN, the most influential armed group in southern Thailand, has seen significant progress as both sides mutually agreed on the “Peaceful Ramadan Initiative” run from April 3 to May 14.
The period coincided with the begining of the holy month of Ramadan to the 10th day of Eid al-Fitr to create an environment conducive to peace.
Earlier, media reported only one incident of a bomb attack during the period that occurred on April 15, where one civilian was killed and three police officers injured in Pattani’s Sai Buri district.
Meanwhile, the statement said Prawit reiterated that the Thai government is committed to finding a peaceful and lasting solution to end the decades old conflict via talks and negotiations with all stakeholders.
The same statement said Abdul Rahim also commended the Thai government in fulfilling its commitment to resolve the conflict in south Thailand.
“The success of Peaceful Ramadan Initiative showed the Thai government remains steadfast to find lasting peace in the southern provinces,” he said.
The talks between the Thai government and BRN are seen as new hope in ending the violence in Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla - provinces where the majority of the population is Muslim.
The relentless cycle of violence in southern Thailand began in 2004 in four provinces namely Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkla, which has claimed 7,000 lives to date.