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Prem urges army to restore peace

Bangkok. December 30, 2005.

Statesman and Privy Council chairman Gen Prem Tinsulanonda has urged the military to do its best to bring peace back to the South and to stay out of politics. He also lauded the police for their improved performance during the tenure of national police commissioner Pol Gen Kowit Wattana.

The former prime minister made the statements to Defence Minister Gen Thammarak Isarangkura na Ayudhaya and around 30 military top brass who paid their respects to him at his Si Sao Thewes residence to mark New Year yesterday.

Gen Prem said military officers must work harder due to the current difficult situation which has challenged both their capability and unity. He added that Gen Thammarak was a military leader with ''real military spirit and blood'' who could lead the military to return peace to the country no matter what the political situation was like. ''The military is not involved with politics. Gen Thammarak may feel uncomfortable in being both [a soldier and a politician]. But, actually it's not hard because he knows what part he's playing now,'' the privy councillor said.

He wished Their Majesties the King and Queen and the sacred spirits would inspire all soldiers to ''think, speak and act well'' to express their gratitude to the country.

Gen Prem also asked all soldiers to adhere to two principles to be soldiers with all their hearts and do their best to fulfil their duties according to their oath of allegiance to protect Thai sovereignty and to develop the country.

The general later greeted the national police chief and senior police officers. ''The unusual situation in the South is a challenging task. But now is the time for police to show real police spirit to brace for challenging situations after hiding from them for a long time. No matter what happens I'm watching and by your side. I wish you success sooner or later, but I hope it will be soon,'' Gen Prem said.

Also yesterday, the defence minister said he had no problem being both a soldier and a politician because his focus was directing security affairs which would help strengthen and unite the military. Gen Thammarak quoted Gen Prem as saying that he must work with pride and strength and that the military must understand its duties and have determination in doing its work. He said the military has always worked with Gen Prem and believed the situation would improve due to its unity. ''Sometimes the situation was serious and we could not just walk towards them and speak to them [southern instigators] because they would shoot us. There are better ways out. Anyway, the National Reconciliation Commission's proposals submitted to the military will be applied. Our ideas match, but we must find a way to improve the situation and work together well,'' Gen Thammarak said.

Army chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin said the army has always borne in mind that political strategies must lead military ones in terms of problem-solving and it was urgently trying to improve intelligence work and community relations.

Ref: Bangkok Post

Prem Tinsulanonda Center for International Education, Chiang Mai, Kingdom of Thailand