World Bulletin / News Desk
Moro Muslims or Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government have agreed a peace deal to end a 40-year conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people, President Benigno Aquino said on Sunday.
The agreement sets in train a roadmap to create a new Bangsamoro autonomous region in Muslim-dominated areas of the south before the end of Aquino's term in 2016. Bangsamoro refers to Muslim and non-Islamic minority people in the southern Philippines.
Expectations are high that after nearly 15 years of interrupted talks, both Muslims and the government will work side-by-side to realise the promises contained in the agreement, to be signed on Oct. 15 in Manila and witnessed by Aquino and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The two sides reached the deal for the resource-rich region during talks in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
"This agreement creates a new political entity and it deserves a name that symbolises and honours the struggles of our forebears in Mindanao and celebrates the history and character of that part of our nation. That name will be Bangsamoro," Aquino announced via a live broadcast from the presidential palace.
"This framework agreement is about rising above our prejudices. It is about casting aside the distrust and myopia that has the plagued efforts of the past," said Aquino, surrounded by his cabinet ministers.
Zainuddin Malang, executive director of the Mindanao Human Rights Action Cente, a civil society group monitoring an existing truce in the region says the two sides must take extra caution in their next steps.
"This agreement is merely an opportunity to end the conflict. The actual end of the conflict can only come from its successful implementation. We can only hope this agreement won't suffer the fate of prior agreements," Malang said.
"What is very important here is that we have a president who has so much political capital, backing the framework agreement, so the chances are higher to end the conflict."
The deal will set up a 15-member Transition Commission, which has until 2015 to draft a law creating the new entity to replace the current autonomous region.
The new entity and its jurisdiction will be determined through a plebiscite after the passage of the organic law.
The Muslim area will gain more political and economic powers, including imposition of taxes to cut central government subsidies, a bigger share in revenues from natural resources and a more active role in internal security.
"This framework agreement paves the way for a final, enduring peace in Mindanao," Aquino said. "It brings all former secessionist groups into the fold; no longer does the Moro Islamic Liberation Front aspire for a separate state.
"This means that hands that once held rifles will be put to use tilling land, selling produce, manning work stations, and opening doorways of opportunity for other citizens."
A "civil nuclear deal" with Pakistan and the United States is on the horizon with representatives from both countries discussing options before Pakistani Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif visits Washington at the end of the month
Assistance is expected from four countries: China, Malaysia, Russia & Singapore
'Enough. Even war has rules,' Doctors Without Borders president says
Pakistani military spokesman saysin statement that allegations of Pakistani involvement in Kunduz attack are 'mischievous'
Two states agreed on submarines trade deal, entailing transfer of technology for submarine construction to Pakistan
'We have to provide our senior leadership options different than the current plan we are going with,' says Gen. Campbell
Humanitarian situation in the strategic northern city is thought to be difficult but the extent of what is needed remains unclear because of problems getting access
German chancellor held lengthy talks with the Indian prime minister on her first trip to New Delhi since Modi's right-wing party stormed to power
USgeneral says Afghan army called to eliminate the Taliban threat and several civilians were accidentally struck,
Father, three children reported to have been asleep inside house when three men armed with M-16 rifles barged in and fired on them
Local forces resist Taliban attempt to capture Maimana, week after temporary fall of Kunduz
Six parties won seats in the Kyrgyzstan legislature, all of them pro-Russian, in Sunday's vote
Doctors Without Borders put US under pressure as they wish to investigate Kunduz hospital bombing
Six political parties in total pass threshold to enter 120-member unicameral legislature
Hospital operator Medecins Sans Frontieres says it is ‘disgusted’ by Afghan gov’t claims that medical compound was exploited by Taliban
PM's remarks came a day after 66-year-old Japanese citizen was shot dead in northern Bangladesh, the second foreigner to be murdered in the South Asian nation in less than a week