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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08BANGKOK2871 2008-09-22 11:01:00 SECRET Embassy Bangkok
Cable title:  

SOUTHERN VIOLENCE: PEACE TALKS IN INDONESIA CATCH

Tags:   PGOV PHUM PINR PREL PTER TH 
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					  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002871 

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/22/2018
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR PREL PTER TH
SUBJECT: SOUTHERN VIOLENCE: PEACE TALKS IN INDONESIA CATCH
THAI GOVERNMENT BY SURPRISE

REF: A. BANGKOK 2808 ( MEDIATOR HAS GOOD NEWS AND BAD
NEWS)

B. CHIANG MAI 141 (SEARCHING FOR WAYS AHEAD)

C. BANGKOK 2181 (UNKNOWN GROUP CALLS A CEASE-FIRE)

D. JAKARTA 1792

BANGKOK 00002871 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: DCM JAMES F. ENTWISTLE, REASON 1.4 (B, D)




1. (S) Summary: Announcements by the Indonesian government
that it was mediating peace talks between the Royal Thai
government (RTG) and southern Thai insurgent groups, reported
in the Thai press September 22, caught the Thai government by
surprise. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Royal Thai Army,
and Southern Border Provinces Administration Center all told
us they knew nothing about this initiative. Dr. Mark
Tamthai, the RTG point person on the secret Henri Dunant
Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HDC) brokered peace
negotiations, said these talks had no official backing, and
had something to do with a political initiative by former
Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyuth. (Note: Per ref A, the
Indonesian government had been providing a venue for the
secret HDC brokered dialogue. End note.)



2. (S) Comment: We are skeptical that these talks will have
any bearing on the situation in southern Thailand. Although
there appears to be more behind them than the bogus peace
deal announced in July by former Minister of Defense General
(ret) Chetta Thanacharo (ref c), the degree to which they
took the RTG by surprise suggests that they may have more to
do with the negotiators seeking standing amidst the current
political crisis in Bangkok. According to press sources,
both Chavalit and former 4th Army Area Commander Kwanchart
Klaharn, the Thai negotiator in the these talks, are looking
for a role in whatever government emerges from the political
turmoil; there were rumors over the weekend that Chavalit
might make a comeback to government as a DPM in the new
Somchai government. End Summary and Comment.

Secret channel revealed, or new channel?


--------------------------





3. (SBU) According to multiple press sources, the Indonesia
government announced on September 22 that it was brokering a
new track of negotiations between southern Thai insurgents
and the RTG. The talks took place on September 20 and 21 and
were mediated by Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla at the
Presidential place in Bogor, Indonesia, according to the
press reports. Pictures of the Kalla-hosted sessions ran on
the front page of September 22 papers; reports suggested five
representatives from southern Thailand met with former 4th
Army Area Commander Kwanchart Klaharn and agreed to end the
violence. (Note: Kwanchart was an advisor to ex PM/Defense
Minister Samak. who stepped down September 9 after a
constitutional court ruling. End note.)

The RTG is not involved


--------------------------





4. (C) The RTG, however, has denied any knowledge of the
talks and told us September 22 that the announcement caught
them by surprise. Penprapa Vongkovit, chief of the MFA's
International Security Unit, the MFA office charged with
dealing with the southern insurgency, told us the MFA was not
involved in the talks and knew nothing about them. She said
Kwanchart had advised former Prime Minister Samak on the
South, but that he was working without any political backing.
She speculated that Kwanchart was now in Indonesia possibly
at the request of Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, whom
he may know personally. RTG policy was not to oppose these
discussions, but it was impossible to support them either
because they knew nothing about the insurgent groups taking
part. She said this effort at dialogue would likely go
nowhere because it had no official Thai support. Publicly,
MFA spokesperson Tharit Charungvat said the RTG regarded the
southern insurgency as an internal Thai affair and had not
requested help from the Indonesians.


BANGKOK 00002871 002.2 OF 002




5. (C) The 4th Army Area and Southern Border Provinces
Administration Center (SBPAC) were also taken by surprise,
and told us September 22 they were in the dark about any new
dialogue. According to Col. Akkhara Thiprot, spokesperson
for the 4th Army Area ISOC, the ISOC and the 4th Army Area
were not aware of the talks and had only received word of
them through the news media. Akkhra told us the Army,s
position had not changed; they would not negotiate with the
insurgents, and anyone involved in the southern violence
would be subject to criminal prosecution. He said the Army
views insurgents as criminals, not part of an organized
movement.



6. (C) The SBPAC was likewise caught off guard, but was more
supportive of the effort. SBPAC Secretary General
Natthaphong Sirichana told us September 22 that the SBPAC was
not aware of the talks; SBPAC Director Phranai Suwanrath, in
press statements, said he was still confused about them.
Phranai stated he would welcome the negotiations, if they
actually existed, because any peaceful resolution would
depend on a negotiated settlement.

What's going on? Chavalit gambit?


--------------------------





7. (S) According to Dr. Mark Tamthai (please protect)
point-man for the RTG's secret dialogue with southern
insurgents, the negotiations announced by the Indonesian
government were not part of any official operation. Tamthai
said they were a "political" initiative involving former
Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyuth, his Wahda political
faction (note: which used to have a number of MPs
representing the 3 deep south provinces affected by the
insurgency), Malaysian intelligence, and a few breakaway
insurgents. Tamthai said these talks had been planned for
three to four months, and that the armed groups involved in
the violence would not participate in them.



8. (U) Note: On September 18, Chavalit held a press
conference claiming that some southern militants would
announce a cease fire October 11, in advance of a permanent
peace announcement to be made December 5 in honor of the
King's birthday. In the same press conference, Chavalit
suggested revamping the Thai poltiical system to allow for a
50-50 split between elected MPs and those appointed by
professional groups, adopting the "New Politics" approach of
the Peoples' Alliance for Democracy (PAD).
JOHN