23 May 2024

More separatist groups will be invited to join the BRN in peace talks with the Thai government, the Malaysian facilitator of the peace process said on Wednesday.

BenarNews quoted former Malaysian military chief Zulkifli Zainal Abidin as saying that representatives of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) have given their consent to other rebel groups taking part in future peace dialogue.

Zulkifli said that he hopes the other groups, from the Malay-majority in Thailand’s Deep South, will be present at the next round of negotiations in March, which would mark the first time they have participated in peace talks since 2018.

“They have agreed, in principle, to invite others because they want to be inclusive too, but we need to send formal invitations to the others to make it happen,” Zulkifli told BenarNews.

Zulkifli chaired the recent two-day peace talks in Kuala Lumpur, attended by Gen Wallop Raksanoh who headed the Thai delegation and the BRN representatives led by Anas Abdulrahman, during which they agreed to move the peace dialogue process forward, under what is termed a “Joint Comprehensive Plan toward Peace.”

Gen Wallop told Thai PBS that the plan, with a two-year timeframe, will serve as a roadmap to address the three core issues agreed upon during the meeting, namely the cessation of violence, public consultation and long-term political solutions.

Zulkifli echoed Gen Wallop’s optimism, that peace could be achieved in the strife-torn border areas in two years. “I am confident, based on my two friends here,” he said at a press conference, flanked by Gen Wallop and Anas Abdulrahman, after the talks ended on Wednesday.

In an interview with Thai PBS, Gen Wallop said the talks in Kuala Lumpur gave him confidence that “there is some light at the end of the tunnel, “and I hope that we will be out of the tunnel in two years,” he said.

Gen Wallop said the issue of inclusivity was discussed during the talks.

The BRN is the main rebel group, which has been fighting against Thai government authorities since January 2004.