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4th army chief underterred by MARA Patani’s statement

Written by Thailand News

Fourth Army Region commander Lt-Gen Piyatwat Nakwanich has brushed aside MARA Patani’s comment that the Bring People Home project and the declaration of 14 districts in the Deep South as safety zones are not related to the peace dialogue process.

He said today (March 24) that he was not worried with MARA Patani’s statement, claiming that the Bring People Home project was the right course of action undertaken by the Fourth Army Region, but the project might cause dissatisfaction among some separatist groups because they are losing their support base.

Lt-Gen Piyawat insisted that the unilateral declaration of safety zones in 14 districts was not stage-managed, but was part of the military’s effort to try to resolve the unrest problem.  He also assured that there is no conflict between the fourth army region and the peace dialogue delegation as peace talk with the separatist groups is the government’s key policy.

“The more they (MARA Patani) talk, the more I like because this shows that our policy has achieved its target.  That is why they woke up and started talking and they will talk more because those who are liable for unrest in the past decade will steadily emerge,” said Lt-Gen Piyawat.

Regarding the joint project of safety house between the government and Mara Patani,  the 4th army region commander said he welcomed their representatives and would look after them on condition that they did not break the law which would be dealt with accordingly.

MARA Patani held a press conference on Friday (March 23) in Malaysia, to express their stances on the ongoing peace dialogue between the Thai government and the group.

The group said they were concerned over certain statements and actions by the 4th Army Commander that contradict the peace dialogue process and emphasized that the “Bring People Home” project and the alleged 14 safety zones districts as declared by the 4th Army Commander are not at all related to MARA Patani-Thai government peace dialogue process.

Srisompob Jitpiromsri, director of the Center for Conflict Studies and Cultural Diversity at Pattani-based Prince of Songkhla University, said he didn’t think the 4th army region’s policy such as the Bring People Home and 14 safety zones would not post an obstacle to the peace dialogue process.

However, he noted that there might be some officers at operational level who did not follow the policy.

Mr Srisompob welcomed the emergence of representative of the Barison Revolusi Nasional (BRN), Uztas Shukri Hari, as head of MARA Patani Peace Dialogue Panel, saying that this indicates that BRN wants to take the lead in the dialogue and may want to take this opportunity to communicate with their members in the field and other separatist groups which are not involved in the peace dialogue.

Regarding the postponement of the safe house project, Mr Srisompob said that it was not unusual as peace process should not be rushed.

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