In Thailand’s Restive Deep South, Election Stirs Rare Enthusiasm | 3/16/2019 | Staff
YALA, Thailand (Reuters) – Pateemoh Poh-itaeda-oh, 39, has lost four family members to violence in Thailand’s deep south, where a Muslim separatist movement has fought against rule from Bangkok for 15 years.

Now, she is running for a parliamentary seat in a general election on Sunday, hoping to have a hand in making government policies for the restive region.

Sunday - Vote - Battle - Allies - Junta

Sunday’s vote is broadly seen as a battle between allies of the military junta leader seeking to stay in power and supporters of ousted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, a former telecommunication tycoon whose loyalists have won every general election since 2001.

But that divide has a different dynamic in the three southern border provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat, which are 80 percent Muslim, while the rest of Thailand is overwhelmingly Buddhist.

Separatist - Insurgency - People - January - Monks

A separatist insurgency has dragged on since 2004, killing more than 6,900 people. In January, two Buddhist monks were shot dead in a suspected insurgent attack.

In previous elections, the deep south was not much courted by politicians seeking national power. But the arrival of several new parties on the political scene, along with stalled peace talks, have stirred interest in the campaign in the south – and enthusiasm to participate among newly minted candidates.

Pateemoh - Muslim - Candidate - Action - Coalition

Pateemoh, a Muslim who is a candidate for the pro-junta Action Coalition for Thailand party (ACT), said she got involved because she felt for the first time there was a chance for the concerns of the south to be heard and – possibly – bring an end to the conflict.

“For a long time many Thais have looked at problems in the deep south as a marginal border issue, but this election I have seen changes,” she told Reuters at her party headquarters in Yala province.

Insurgency - Brothers - Sister

Ending the insurgency is deeply personal to her. Three of her brothers and one sister have been...
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