Manila, rebels re­launch peace talks

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THE Philip­pines restarted peace talks with the coun­try’s largest Mus­lim rebel group, the first un­der Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte aimed at end­ing decades of vi­o­lence that has claimed tens of thou­sands of lives.

Ne­go­tia­tors for the two sides said the talks in Malaysia over the week­end would dis­cuss de­tails of Mr Duterte’s peace road map.

“They will dis­cuss the road map to clar­ify cer­tain is­sues. But let me warn ev­ery­one, it is not an easy task. It is very com­pli­cated,” Je­sus Dureza, pres­i­den­tial ad­viser on the peace process, said with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

The 12,000-strong Moro Is­lamic Lib­er­a­tion Front (MILF) has waged a bloody in­sur­gency in the mainly Mus­lim south­ern Philip­pines since the 1970s but an ac­cord signed in 2014 had raised hopes of a last­ing peace.

Un­der the ac­cord, the rebels would have only given up their arms af­ter a law was passed cre­at­ing an au­tonomous home­land in Min­danao and a re­gional govern­ment was elected.

The vote was meant to take place along­side the May 2016 Philip­pine gen­eral elec­tion.

How­ever, a bun­gled raid into MILF ter­ri­tory that killed 44 po­lice com­man­dos in 2015 helped de­rail the pas­sage of the law and stalled the peace process with the rebels.

Mr Dureza de­scribed the re­launch­ing of the talks in Malaysia, the first for­mal sit-down be­tween the two sides since Mr Duterte took of­fice, as a “big mile­stone for peace in Min­danao”.

MILF chief Murad Ebrahim said he wel­comed fel­low Mus­lim rebel Nur Misuari, chair of the Moro Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Front (MNLF), to join the tran­si­tion com­mis­sion to es­tab­lish the “Bangsamoro” au­tonomous re­gion in the south.

The Philip­pine Mus­lim sep­a­ratists com­prise three main groups – the MNLF and break­away fac­tions the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf kid­nap-for­ran­som group. –

Photo: AFP

Philip­pine pres­i­den­tial ad­viser on the peace process Je­sus Dureza (left) shakes hands with Murad Ibrahim, chair of the Moro Is­lamic Lib­er­a­tion Front, in Kuala Lumpur on Au­gust 13.

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