Indonesian prez urges Thai PM to lift martial law

Jakarkta, October 21:

Indonesia’s president urged Thailand’s new military-backed premier Surayud Chulanont to lift martial law put in place after the kingdom’s bloodless coup last month, a minister said today.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also told Surayud that a military solution to an insurgency raging in Thailand’s south was unlikely to work based on Indonesia’s experiences, foreign minister Hassan Wirayuda said.

Surayud met with Yudhoyono during a one-day visit to Jakarta today, his latest stop in a flurry of introductory diplomatic visits to Southeast Asian capitals since he was installed as leader by the junta in Bangkok.

“The president conveyed to the prime minister that following his communications with other world leaders, he strongly suggests that the emergency situation in Thailand can be considered being revoked in the near future,” Wirayuda said after the talks.

“Then the prime minister said that he would consider it carefully and noted that the fact remained there was still potential for security disturbances in Thailand after the coup,” Wirayuda added.

The Thai junta has been facing growing pressure from the international community to restore civil liberties in the wake of the September 19 coup, which saw billionaire former premier Thaksin Shinawatra ousted while he was abroad.

Surayud told the Indonesian president that he had been “inspired” by the peace pact Jakarta agreed with separatist rebels in Aceh province in August 2005.

Thailand has been involved in helping to monitor the peace process in Aceh province.

“The president said that from our experience in managing the conflict situation in Aceh, a military solution will not solve the problem,” Wirayuda said.

Surayud’s post-coup government has already vowed to try to resolve the long-running insurgency in Thailand’s Muslim-majority south peacefully.