BANGKOK (Xinhua) – Malaysia is still acting as the facilitator for renewed peace talks between the Thai government and insurgents in the restive Deep South, a Thai deputy prime minister said Wednesday amid reports that Malaysia wanted to quit.
Thai and Malaysian authorities have met for discussions on a regular basis and understood each other, Prawit Wongsuwon was quoted by Bangkok Post as saying.
Steps towards peace negotiations are proceeding normally, Prawit, who is also defense minister, said, refuting some media reports that Malaysia is dissatisfied and wants Indonesia to take over the role as a facilitator.
Thailand’s Deep South, including three Muslim, ethnic-Malay dominated southern border provinces — Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and four districts of Songkhla, has been plagued with separatist violence since January 2004.
With Malaysia as the facilitator, the already-deposed Yingluck government started talks with insurgent groups led by the Barisan Revolusi Nasional early last year, but stalled in October after five rounds.
The incumbent Prayut government has recently appointed the chairman of the army’s advisory panel to lead the peace negotiation, the date of which has yet to be set.
The government will try to restore peace in the far South within a year, Prawit said earlier.