Thai PM to lift emergency in more southern districts, restore peace in South

20:05, January 17, 2011      

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Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Monday said that his government would consider revoking the state of emergency in more districts of the three southern border provinces.

The premier said in Pattani province while presiding over a remembrance ceremony for teachers who have died in the three southernmost provinces since violence erupted in the region in January 2004.

He said that Mae Lan district in Pattani was the pilot district where the government has lifted the state of emergency and that the government would gradually replace the enforcement of emergency decree in the deep South with normal laws.

"The government is ready to solve problems with peaceful means and will avoid the use of force. Political measures will be implemented rather than military operations," the prime minister said.

On the occasion of Teacher's Day on Jan. 16 when another teacher was slain by suspected insurgents the day before, the premier said southern unrest had affected children's education and had taken away the lives of teachers.

"The government is aware of the religious and cultural divergence in the South but it is determined to create peace in the region," said Abhisit.

The prime minister also granted relief fund for representatives of the teachers affected by insurgency in the region and went to examine the post-state-of-emergency situation in Mae Lan district where the state of emergency was removed on Dec. 28.

The state of emergency has been enforced in the three troubled southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat some five years ago in the wake of the violence instigated by suspected secessionists. Since 2004, more than 4,400 local people have been killed and about 7,000 others injured in the three provinces by suspected separatists.

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