Philippine Muslim leader freed on bail

A Muslim insurgent leader who was jailed for leading the battle was freed on bail Friday so he can join a review of a peace agreement with the government.

Philippine Muslim leader freed on bail

Nur Misuari founded the Moro National Liberation Front, the Philippines' largest independence group. It signed a historic 1996 peace accord in exchange for limited autonomy for Muslims in the country's restive south.

He was arrested in 2001 and charged with "rebellion". He was initially detained in a police camp outside Manila but was later held under house arrest.

The Justice Department said the court order granting him bail was in line with a recent Cabinet decision. Peace process adviser Jesus Dureza welcomed the decision, calling Misuari "a partner for peace and development."

The Organization of the Islamic Conference, a 56-member group of Islamic nations, has been mediating in the decades-old insurgency, and had asked the government to free Misuari ahead of May 26-29 talks in Manila on the implementation of the 1996 accord amid complaints it was not being fully enforced.

The Moro National Liberation Front dropped its demand for independence and accepted limited autonomy when it signed the pact.

Another group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, rejected the 1996 peace deal and kept fighting for Muslim self-rule. It signed a cease-fire in 2003, however, and entered talks with the government.

The southern Philippines is a Muslim homeland.

The Moro National Liberation Front leadership has split among feuding factions. Earlier this month a rival ousted Misuari as the nominal head of the group, but Misuari's supporters said they would not recognize anyone else.

Agencies

Last Mod: 25 Nisan 2008, 16:25
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