Army wants emergency rule lifted in 1-2 districts only
The army is in favour of lifting emergency rule in just one or two districts in the deep South instead of five districts as proposed by Deputy Interior Minister Thavorn Senniem, it was reliably reported.
Mr Thavorn has wanted emergency decree to be lifted in Betong and Kabang districts of Yala, Sukhirin and Waeng districts of Narathiwat and Mae Larn district of Pattani. However, the army felt that the situation in the five districts remains unstable. But if emergency rule is to be lifted at all, it should be in Kabang or Betong as insurgency activities have largely reduced to satisfactory level, said the informed source.
But once emergency rule is lifted, either Kabang or Betong will come under the Security Act of B.E. 2551 just as four districts of Songkhla where state of emergency was already lifted earlier.
On Thursday November 4, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva chaired a meeting of top security officers to discuss situation in the three southernmost provinces and the possibility of lifting the state of emergency in some of the districts where insurgency threat has considerably subsided.
Among the top officers attended the meeting were Army Commander-in-Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, national police chief General Wichien Potephosri, Mr Thawil Pliensee, secretary-general of National Security Council, Mr Suvaphan Tanyuwattana, director of the National Intelligence Agency and Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanich.
A day earlier on Wednesday, the International Crisis Group Thailand, a non-profit nongovernmental organization, issued an update report, titled “The Stalemate in Southern Thailand”, about the insurgency in the deep South.
The report said that although military operations might have succeeded in reducing vilence in the strife-torn region, the government has made little effort to tackle the political grievances that drive the insurgency.
A limited unilateral suspension of hostilities offered by the militants has met no significant response from the government, said the report, adding that the conflict in the deep South remains on the margins of Thai politics and unresolved.
The report called for a paradigm shift to acknowledge that assimilation of Malay Muslims in the region has failed and that recognition of their distinct ethno-religious identity is essential. Dialogue with insurgents and reform of governance structures remain two missing components of a comprehensive political solution, said the report.
While the government has recognized the importance of political solutions to end the bloody conflict, the report said words have not been matched with actions. State of emergency imposed since 2005 in the three southernmost provinces remain intact, the report added.
The report also expressed scepticism that the government’s planned launch of a new political offensive by implementing a quasi amnesty policy under the Internal Security Act hoping it will entice militants to surrender and weaken the movement will succeed.
The plan allows authorities, with the consent of the court, to drop criminal charges against suspected militants who, in turn, will be required to undergo up to six months of training or indoctrination.
The report also called on the militants to consider new political strategies. Beyond protesting through violence, they should get ready to make concrete demands at a time when an opportunity for talks arises, said the report.