Muslims urge Manila to delay regional elections

President Gloria Arroyo's peace adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon said both panels will meet on July 24 to formally sign the deal on ancestral domain.

Muslims urge Manila to delay regional elections
Moro Islamic Liberation Front members urged Manila to postpone next month's regional elections in Mindanao until both sides sign a peace agreement, Arab news reported.

Peace negotiators reached an agreement on the issue of ancestral domain and both sides are discussing talks aimed at putting an end to more than four decades of hostilities in the southern region.

The ancestral domain covers the whole of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and other areas in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat , Sarangani provinces and Palawan.

Manila has offered to hold a plebiscite in at least 712 villages covered by the Muslim ancestral domain and a shift to federal system of government for the proposed region.

Ghazali Jaafar, deputy MILF chieftain, said the Aug. 11 polls in the ARMM would affect the peace talks because those who would be elected have to finish their three-year term.

"Three years is a long time. Many can happen within three years. There is a need to postpone the elections in the ARMM. The MILF is very serious in asking the Arroyo administration to postpone the forthcoming ARMM elections."

"The ARMM elections are an obstacle to the successful implementation of the peace process if there is an agreement signed (by both sides because) we have to wait for the elected officials to finish their terms," Jaafar said.

President Gloria Arroyo's peace adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon said both panels will meet on July 24 to formally sign the deal on ancestral domain.

But Muslim groups and opposition politicians fear that President Arroyo or her allies in the House of Representatives might use the peace talks with the MILF as an excuse to amend the Constitution to change the system of government from presidential to parliamentary or federal form to allow the MILF to have a separate state and eventually prolong her stay into power beyond 2010.
Last Mod: 21 Temmuz 2008, 08:52
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