11 July 2024

Representatives of the Thai government and a major separatist group ended their first day of peace talks hosted by Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur with emphasis on how to create an atmosphere conducive to the peace process and ending violence in southern Thailand, according to the Thai chief delegate.

Chatchai Bangchuad, who is also deputy secretary general of the National Security Council, said he expected to see more concrete progress in the second and last day of the peace talks on Wednesday.

“We are pleased with how the talks proceeded today. Both sides demonstrated intention and seriousness in finding common solutions,” he said but did not elaborate.

He said the two sides “spent hours” discussing how the peace roadmap known as the “Joint Comprehensive Plan Toward Peace” should be implemented in order to create an atmosphere in the three southernmost provinces that is conducive to the peace process and ending the violence “so that people will be encouraged to speak out in public.”

The Thai delegation’s counterpart was represented by key members of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) who turned up dressed in Malay traditional attires.  The session was facilitated by Gen Zulkifli Zainal Abidin, a former military commander-in-chief of Malaysia.

The peace talks, initiated back in 2013 during the Yingluck government, was suspended last year because of political changes in Thailand following the general elections in May.

The JCPP, which was agreed upon in the last round of talks last February, focuses on cessation of violence, public consultation with stake-holders, and finding a political solution to the decades-long conflict.