The Thai government on Saturday hailed “significant progress” in the latest talks with the main group fighting an insurgency in Thailand’s Muslim deep south after the sides agreed to stop violence during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan.
A Thai government delegation and representa-tives of the main rebel group, the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), met face-to-face earlier this week in Malaysia in the latest round of talks after peace dialogue resumed in January after a two-year pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 7,300 people have been killed in in-surgency related violence since 2004 when a dec-ades-old rebellion flared up in the provinces of Na-rathiwat, Yala, Pattani and parts of Songkhla, a predominantly Malay-speaking Muslim area in ma-jority Buddhist Thailand.
The BRN said in a statement that the two sides have agreed to stop violence during Ramadan, which runs from April 3 to May 14, to “create a safe and prosperous atmosphere” for the community as a process of “confidence-building” to “establish meaningful peace.”
Thailand said in a statement that the creation of an “environment conducive to peace” during Ramadan will allow people to “safely perform their religious practices” and boost public confidence in the peace dialogue.
Both sides have also agreed to established joint working groups in three areas, including the reduc-tion of violence, public consultations and a political solution, the Thai government said. Shadowy rebel groups have called for independ-ence for the southern Malay-Muslim majority prov-inces, which were part of a sultanate called Patani and annexed by Thailand in 1909 as part of treaty with Britain.—AFP