- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 3, 2005

BANGKOK (Agence France-Presse) — Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra this week appointed predecessor Anand Panyarachun to head a committee aimed at bringing peace to southern provinces wracked by Muslim separatist unrest.

“I asked [former] Prime Minister Anand to be the chairman of the Committee of Unanimity to solve the problems in the three southernmost provinces,” Mr. Thaksin told reporters after meeting with Mr. Anand and a local academic.

He said he hoped the 30-member panel would discuss a “range of ideas” related to the violence that has left more than 610 people dead since January 2004.

The committee includes government officials, police, soldiers, opposition leaders, civil groups and Muslims from the provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala, which have borne the brunt of the unrest.

Mr. Anand, known for his efforts at transparency during his 1991 caretaker government that followed a military coup, said he was glad to help draft a solution for what has proved the worst crisis of Mr. Thaksin’s leadership.

“We talked today about the problems in the south,” he said. Mr. Anand, who also serves as the UNICEF ambassador for Thailand, said there was no time frame for the committee to formulate its recommendations.

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