(AFP) – Feb 2, 2010
GENEVA — Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said Tuesday that his government is capable of quashing insurgency violence in the country's restive south by year-end.
Asked if he is confident of bringing peace in 2010 to the region which has been under a state of emergency for almost five years, Kasit said: "Yes, yes, yes. Under our administration."
He explained that the Thai government is pouring financial resources into the development of the region, while working closely with the armed forces to bring about stability.
Externally, Thailand has also been receiving help from countries including Gulf states, Malaysia and Indonesia on the issue, he said.
"Various foreign leaderships have been telling the Muslim minorities of the citizenship of Thailand to behave as good Thai citizens," he told journalists in Geneva.
"Everyone is helping us to bring about peace and security down south," he added.
"So, yes, there is a sense of optimism," he added.
More than 4,100 people -- both Buddhists and Muslims -- have died and thousands more wounded since shadowy separatist militants launched an insurgency in the Muslim-majority southern region six years ago.
Emergency rule was imposed in mid-2005, but rights groups have blamed the continued state of emergency for encouraging a culture of impunity for alleged rights abuses by the security forces.
Tensions have simmered in the region, formerly an autonomous Malay Muslim sultanate, since it was annexed in 1902 by mainly Buddhist Thailand.
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