Islamic Conference sees progress for peace in Philippines

Islamic Conference envoy said that they were counting on the government and MNLF on amending the 1996 peace agreement.

Islamic Conference sees progress for peace in Philippines

The Philippines and former Muslim separatists are making progress towards implementing a peace accord granting autonomy to Filipino Muslims in the south, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) said Saturday.

OIC envoy Sayed El-Masry told reporters there was "light at the end of the tunnel" for a peace accord signed in 1996 between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

El-Masry said that the OIC was now counting on the government and the MNLF to come up with proposals on amending the the 1996 peace agreement which ended decades of fighting and led to the creation of an autonomous region for Muslims, headed by MNLF officials, in the southern Philippines.

The MNLF has complained that the peace agreement was not fully implemented and that the autonomous region was not given enough power and are seeking amendments.

Critics meanwhile say the autonomous region has been mismanaged by the MNLF and that the group has been preoccupied with in-fighting rather than governing.

El-Masry, who had met with MNLF and government representatives during his visit here, said a joint working group would submit a report to the OIC in May on possible amendments for autonomy to be fully realised.

"Now they are just finalising these documents. We hope that there will be a combined report," El-Masry said.

The OIC had fostered the peace talks between the government and the MNLF, and has monitored the ceasefire in place between the two sides.

However El-Masry declined to comment on an MNLF-breakaway group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is not covered by the peace accord with the MNLF.

Although the MILF has signed a ceasefire with the government to negotiate for peace, they are seeking the creation of their own Muslim autonomous region, a demand that might conflict with the MNLF's own autonomous region.

There have been efforts to reunite the MILF and the MNLF but the two rebel groups remain separate.

In previous conferences between the OIC, the government and the MNLF, all parties had agreed that there was a need for joint working groups to be formed by Manila and the MNLF to examine provisions of the 1996 peace agreement that have not been fully implemented.

Agencies

Last Mod: 19 Nisan 2008, 18:06
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