Philippines wants to restart talks with MILF

The government has said it was keen for talks to restart after the holy month of Ramadan

Philippines wants to restart talks with MILF

 

The new Philippine government is optimistic of securing a lasting peace with pro-independent Muslims, and its chief negotiator said on Monday a review of the process was almost complete and talks could resume in the near future.

Marvic Leonen also said he was not unduly concerned by reports the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was building up its strength in case of a breakdown in negotiations.

"The MILF is a military force, and of course it is understandable for them to say they are training their fighters," he told foreign correspondents, adding the Philippine military was also modernising its equipment.

After four decades of armed conflict between the MILF , the country's largest pro-independent Muslim group, and the state the two parties agreed to sign an agreement that would end battle. However, the supreme court of the Philippine declared the agreement "illegal" on August 4, which caused the conflict to resume.

More than 120,000 people have died and 2 million displaced in the fight.
President Benigno Aquino III has said a secure and sustained peace would help attract foreign investment needed to generate jobs in the country.

Leonen said the review ordered by President Benigno Aquino III was not aimed at restarting the peace process from scratch, but to give the new team an understanding of what had been achieved in trying to end the fighting.

"Nine years under a different administration; you cannot just expect a two-month old government to simply take the driver's seat immediately after that nine years," said Leonen.

He indicated international parties would remain involved in the peace process, but did not provide details. Malaysia has facilitated talks since 2001 and the MILF wants them to stay on in that role.

The government has said it was keen for talks to restart after the holy month of Ramadan, and Leonen noted that while it had named some of its panel, the MILF had not yet named any of its team.

The Philippines, an archipelagic country located in the western Pacific Ocean, has a population of 90 million people. The population of Muslims is about 12 million. Between the years 1450 and 1515, two Islamic principalities were founded on the islands of Sulu and Mindanao.

Reuters
 

Last Mod: 16 Ağustos 2010, 16:26
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