Moro Muslims dismiss Manila proposal

Moro Muslim negotiators have dismissed the government's conditioned autonomy for Muslim regions, Manila's chief negotiator said on Tuesday.

Moro Muslims dismiss Manila proposal

Moro Muslim negotiators have dismissed the government's conditioned autonomy for Muslim regions, Manila's chief negotiator said on Tuesday.

The Philippines on Monday conditioned they must first lay down their arms and a peace pact was likely years away.

The offer was contained in the government's proposal for peace with the 12,000-strong MILF at the start of three days of talks in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

"We can't accept a proposal that we think will not address the problems of Muslims in Mindanao," Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman for political affairs, told a television interview from his base in the south.

Marvic Leonen said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's (MILF) rejection of government's proposal did not mean the peace talks hosted by Malaysia from 2001 had collapsed and that both both sides were still open to continue negotiations.

President Beningo Aquino and MILF leader Murad Ebrahim agreed to fast track the peace process following their secret meeting in a Tokyo hotel on August 4.

Leonen told a video conference from the Philippines' embassy in Kuala Lumpur, "the two parties have different positions, otherwise, we will not be negotiating. Our framework is not as they had expected it. They expected something more, they expected the word sub-state."

The Muslim negotiators said they will recommend to the MILF leadership to reject the proposal but they did not return the document, Leonen said, signalling that the peace process had not reached a stalemate.

"More genuine autonomy"

"This proposal presents the possibility of a more empowered, more workable and thus, more genuine autonomy of a Bangsamoro ( Moro Muslim) region," the government said in a statement summarising its offer.

The government did not make public all the specific details, but hinted the area could expand and improve the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which groups five Muslim provinces in the country's south.

The ARMM was created in the 1980s to accommodate the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), then the country's largest Muslim group from which the MILF splintered in 1978.

The proposal also includes "a system of cooperation" by which the government and the MILF could share revenue from natural resources exploited from the region.

However, for any final peace deal to take place, the government demanded that the MILF disarm and allow its fighters to be rehabilitated into society.

And while describing its proposal as "politically comprehensive", it indicated the most sensitive issues would not be addressed immediately.

"The proposal works with what is available and doable within the next few years. It does not start with contentious and divisive issues whose resolution may not be realisable as yet," the statement said.

Monday's proposal was the first by the government since the Supreme Court in 2008 outlawed another proposed autonomy deal that would have given the MILF control over 700 towns and villages in the south.

An estimated 150,000 people have died in the conflict, which began in the 1970s.

At an earlier round of peace talks in Kuala Lumpur, the MILF outlined its demands, including the creation of a "sub state" and the larger share of profits from exploiting the region's resources.

Agencies

Last Mod: 23 Ağustos 2011, 16:02
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