SECURITY IN THE SOUTH: PM promises to squelch violence

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Published on February 10, 2005

If southern problem is solved Thai Rak Thai will sweep future elections, he says

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday insisted his security policy for the restive South was on course, saying it would bear results in time to sway voters at the next general election.

“I am confident that I can restore peace and normalcy in the three southernmost provinces, and my Thai Rak Thai Party will then sweep every vote,” he said.

Commenting on his party’s shattering general-election defeat in the deep South, Thaksin said it had happened because of misunderstandings and the slow implementation of security measures.

“I will not adjust my approach to tackling security problems, and I hope voters will understand me one day,” he said.

He promised to work harder in a non-partisan manner to quell southern violence.

He said he also might overhaul his party’s campaign managers in the southern region ahead of the next general election.

With regard to reports that southern voters cast protest votes against the government’s handling of the southern situation, he said he had already fine-tuned security measures in the region.

“It was unfortunate that two violent incidents [the Krue Se Mosque raid and Tak Bai anti-riot operation] happened,” he said.

The prime minister reiterated the government’s plan to increase the military presence in the South, including the deployment of a newly formed infantry division.

“The new division is not meant for combat, but for peace and development in the region,” he said.

Citing his recovery from a cold, he said he had delayed his planned visit to the three southernmost provinces, which was scheduled to start today.

He said he would reschedule the trip after completing his busy schedule next week, which includes welcoming the king of Sweden and two former US presidents.

Chuan Leekpai, the Democrat Party’s adviser and former prime minister, said the government should review its security approach in the deep South, rather than blame the opposition for inciting voter wrath in the region.

“Voters in the South have sent a loud and clear message to the government, and they have not been swayed by rumours allegedly spread by the Democrats,” he said.

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