Moro Muslims want new Philippine leader to commit long-term solution

Moro Muslims want incoming President Benigno Aquino to commit a clear, long-term solution to the conflict in Muslim region, a senior leader of MILF said.

Moro Muslims want new Philippine leader to commit long-term solution

Moro Muslims want incoming President Benigno Aquino to commit a clear, long-term solution to the conflict in Muslim region, a senior leader of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said on Monday.

Mohaqher Iqbal, the MILF's chief peace negotiator, told Reuters he was optimistic talks would continue under Aquino, who has a commanding lead in unofficial tallies of last week's vote, but wanted more details of the new government's plans.

"So far, what we've been hearing from his peace advisers are short-term solutions, such as sustaining the ceasefire, allowing displaced families to return home and resuming formal peace talks," Iqbal said by phone from the southern island of Mindanao.

"What we wanted to hear from them are much clearer, more specific and long-term political commitments that can be carried out faithfully. We're tired of promises and band-aid solutions."

Iqbal said the 11,000-strong MILF had dropped demands for a separate and independent Islamic state but wanted more than just an autonomous government, including a greater share of revenues generated by strategic resources, such as oil and gas and metals.

"The autonomy set-up is a failed experiment," he said, adding there were other models where Muslims and other ethnic tribes could govern themselves under the Philippine republic.

The Philippines, an archipelagic country located in the western Pacific Ocean, has a population of 90 million people. The population of Muslims is about 12 million. Between the years 1450 and 1515, two Islamic principalities were founded on the islands of Sulu and Mindanao. Islam came to the Philippines in the 13th century 200 years before Christianity did.

"Compensation"

Teresita Quinto-Deles, one of Aquino's advisers, told Reuters the next government had "targets on resolving the conflict it wanted to achieve in the first 100 days in office."

These included compensation to displaced families and setting up mechanisms to "rebuild trust and confidence in the peace process".

After four decades of armed conflict between the Filipino state and the Moro Muslims, the two parties agreed to sign an agreement that would end the conflict. However, the supreme court of the Philippine declared the agreement illegal on August 4, which caused the conflict to resume.

The biggest new internal displacement of people in that year was in Muslim region in Philippine, where nearly 750,000 fled fighting with government and MILF in Muslim region, a United Nations-backed report said.

A renewed truce took effect last year and formal talks resumed this year with the intention of reaching an interim agreement before the end of outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's term on June 30, but a deal has not yet been reached.

The two sides will return to Kuala Lumpur this month to try to reach an interim deal before Arroyo steps down.

Agencies

Last Mod: 18 Mayıs 2010, 15:13
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