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Southern rebel leader announces end to separatism



Southern rebel leader announces end to separatism | Thaiger

Bangkok (Nation): A self-proclaimed spokesman of 11 “underground” separatist groups has announced a ceasefire in the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, ending the secessionist movement in the Malay-speaking region.

The announcement, delivered by videotape, was broadcast midday today through Thai TV5, an Army-run station and TV 7.

Speaking through a translator, the spokesman announced an end to all violent attacks and separatist activities in the Muslim-majority region.

He added that any armed groups resisting the order would be considered renegades and could be eliminated.

“We want to see peace and stability in the region. All forms of attacks has come to an end,” the spokesman said.

Although the spokesman said the ceasefire was to come into effect on Monday, attacks in the region have continued with police headquarters in Pattani and Yala coming under bomb attacks this past week.

Former Army Chief and Defense Minister Chetta Thanajaro claimed credit for the apparent breakthrough.

Chetta said he had been carrying out secret negotiations with members of the 11 “underground” movements operating in southern Thailand and abroad.

He said the decision was made “unconditionally” and the spokesman did not make any demands as to what deals, if any, were reached between the Thai government and the groups he claimed to represent.

Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch said Chetta may have “jumped the gun” with the announcement, but added that only time will tell.

“His credibility is on the line. Besides, there has been nothing to suggest that the militants on the ground will let up with their activities,” Sunai said in a telephone interview.

An intelligence official said the announcement is believed to have been recorded in Germany.


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