Manila, MILF Agree To Resume Peace Talks

October 25, 2007 at 4:43 pm | Posted in 1 | 1 Comment

COTABATO CITY, Philippine (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 25, 2007) – Philippine peace negotiators and Muslim rebels ended two days of talks in Malaysia with both sides agreeing to resume a stalled negotiations aimed at ending more than three decades of fighting in Mindanao.

Peace talks have been stalled since September last year after both sides failed to agree on the issue of ancestral domain, which refers to the rebel demand for territory that will constitute a Muslim homeland.

It is the single most important issue in the peace negotiations before the rebel group can reach a political settlement.

Government and MILF peace negotiators also held secret talks in Kuala Lumpur early this month, but they failed to arrive at an agreement that would end Muslim insurgency in the southern Philippines.

The rebels were insisting on the ancestral domain which covers the whole of Muslim autonomous region and other areas in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces where there are large communities of Muslims and indigenous tribes.And even Palawan Island in central Philippines and the Sulu Archipelago.

The latest round of talks ended on Wednesday with negotiators from both sides agreeing to resume formal peace talks next month, according to a joint statement released Thursday in Malaysia.

The state-run Bernama news agency also said that the Philippines and MILF have expressed readiness to resume the next round of peace talks by the middle of next month.

“Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front negotiators ended their two-day peace talks here on a high note with both sides expressing deep satisfaction over the successful resolution of major issues that broke the September 2006 impasse regarding the ancestral domain issue.”

”The process is firmly back on track towards holding formal talks before the end of the year, thereby concluding the negotiations,” it said, quoting a joint Philippine-MILF statement.

Malaysia, an influential member of the Organization of Islamic Conference, is brokering the peace talks between Manila and the MILF, but it has threatened to pull out its contingent from the International Monitoring Team if the talks remain stalled.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Malaysia wanted progress in the seven-year old peace talks between the rebels and the Arroyo government.

“We are glad that the talks were fruitful and the MILF is looking forward for the resumption of the peace negotiations. We wanted peace to reign in Mindanao,” Eid Kabalu, a rebel spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner on Thursday.

The MILF earlier warned that hostilities may erupt in Mindanao if the peace talks fail or if Malaysia pulls out its truce observers from the International Monitoring Team in the strife-torn region of 16 million populations, four million which are made up of Muslims.

The IMT is composed of 41 officers from the Malaysian Defense Forces, the Royal Malaysia Police, and the Prime Minister’s Department and is also supported by 10 military officers from Brunei Darussalam and 5 from Libya. Japan also has a member in the IMT.

The MILF said Libya also wanted to help in the peace talks and has offered to host the negotiations in Tripoli. Former Libyan ambassador Salem Adam has met with MILF chieftain Murad Ebrahim on Wednesday and has assured the rebel group of Tripoli’s support to the peace talks.

“Tripoli has offered to host the peace talks between the Philippine government and the MILF and we welcome this development. Libya has been very supportive of our struggle to have peace in Mindanao,” Kabalu said.

President Gloria Arroyo has opened up peace talks with the MILF, the Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group fighting for the establishment of a strict Islamic state, in 2001. (Mindanao Examiner)

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  1. […] Manila, MILF Agree To Resume Peace Talks Philippine peace negotiators and Muslim rebels ended two days of talks in Malaysia with both sides agreeing to resume a stalled negotiations aimed at ending more than three decades of fighting in Mindanao. Posted in Philippines | Trackback | del.icio.us | Top Of Page […]


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