The southern unrest which has dragged on for nine years still poses a major challenge for the government this year and the big question is how the government will proceed _ militarily and politically _ to pacify the region.
One of the issues raised at a discussion panel held in December last year by the Patani Forum, a non-governmental think-tank dedicated to the problems in the deep South, was informal peace talks between the Thai state and the various insurgent groups in the region.
Informal peace talks to resolve the southern unrest are nothing new. In fact, the process has been going on _ on and off _ for the past eight years since 2005 when Thaksin Shinawatra was prime minister. It has been carried on by seven successive governments, including the incumbent administration of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, to no avail.
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