Southern Thai peace talks will be “very long process”: Malaysian facilitator
Peace talks between the Thai Government and the southern Thai separatist groups could take up to three years, Malaysian dialogue facilitator Abdul Rahim Noor, said in an interview.
Calling the negotiations a “very long process,” Rahim, who is playing the role of facilitator in the talks, said that each of the separatist groups in the region has a unique set of demands.
Currently, the Mara Patani coalition which has been taking part in the talks consists of five factions – the National Revolution Front, Barisan Islam Pembebasan Patani, Gerakan Islam Mujahideen Patani, and two factions of the Patani United Liberation Organisation.
Rahim said this is exacerbated by the fact that the separatist groups in the region are not united.
“The Thai government sees the disunity among factions as a hindrance to the management of the problem there,” he told Malaysiakini.
The Southern Thai insurgency has claimed over 6,000 lives, with gun battles and bombings continuing to rock the region, despite both authorities and many separatists groups moving towards a peace agreement.
‘Bringing factions together’
Rahim, who took up the role of facilitator in August last year, said the “complicated” negotiations are still at the preliminary stage.
“For now, it is to make the factions understand each other. We roughly know what they want.
“I say it’s complicated because one faction wants to have (semi-autonomy) like Aceh, and another wants something like southern Philippines (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region).
“But the ultimate goal here is to get all these factions united, and have one leader when the matter is brought to the negotiating table with the Thai government.”
Rahim also expressed his optimism over the talks, citing the commitment of the various factions to resolve the differences between them.
“The factions leaders want to settle this,” he said.
The facilitator task was previously given to former Research Department director-general Ahmad Zamzamin Hashim before Rahim’s contentious appointment to the role. — Malaysiakini