11 July 2024

Peace talks to end decades of armed conflict in the restive southernmost provinces of Thailand resumed after a year-long pause this morning in Kuala Lumpur, between a delegation from the Thai government and representatives of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) movement.

The peace talks are being facilitated by General Zulkifli Zainal Abidin of Malaysia. This is the first time that the Thai delegation is being led by a civilian, Chatchai Bangchuad, deputy secretary-general of the National Security Council, instead of an army general as in previous talks.

Chatchai told the media before the talks that the meeting today is aimed at following up on the three items guided by the peace roadmap, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan Toward Peace (JCPP), which include public consultations, reduction of violence and political solutions.

He said he expects the meeting today to discuss ending violence during the holy month of Ramadan.

Both Thai chief peace negotiator Chatchai Bangchuad (L) and Malaysian talks facilitator Gen Zulkifli Zainal Abidin (R) are hopeful of progress in the peace dialogue.

The two sides observed a ceasefire during the 2022 holy month. BRN added 10 days as a gesture of goodwill to the Buddhist residents of the Deep South, extending the ceasefire to Visakha Bucha that year.

A similar cease fire could not be secured during Ramadan last year, because the Thai side did not agree with the BRN’s request to allow access by an international monitoring team. Instead, the two sides went into a pause mode, because of the May 14th general election.

Other members of the Thai delegation include Pol Lt-Col Wannapong Kotcharak, secretary-general of the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre, Pol Maj Suriya Singhakamol, deputy permanent secretary of Justice, Lt-Gen Pramote Prom-in, commander of the 4th Army Corp and Pinsuda Jayanama, director-general of the International Organisations Department.

The previous talks came to a halt in February last year as BRN asked for its representatives to be permitted to enter southern Thailand to carry out in-person public consultations. The request was rejected by the Thai military.