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Ex-MILF exec: Sulu sultan being used to scuttle peace process

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KORONADAL CITY, Philippines—Eid Kabalu, a former spokesman for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), believes the Sulu sultan’s insistence on reclaiming Sabah is part of a plot to derail the peace process between the government and the rebel group.

Kabalu cited the fact that Malaysia—which is at the other end of the territorial dispute—is the broker of the peace talks between the government and the MILF.

Speaking with the Inquirer by phone, Kabalu urged a peaceful resolution of the standoff between Malaysian security forces and armed followers of the Sulu sultan holed up in a village in Sabah.

Kabalu said even Nur Misuari, chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), had repeatedly admitted that some of Sultan Jamalul Kiram’s “royal security forces” are members of the MNLF.

Misuari also openly admitted that he resented the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro that the Aquino administration signed with the MILF last October.

Kiram being used

Kabalu said he suspected Kiram was now being used to derail the talks by angering Malaysia.

“Now that the negotiations [are going] well, Kiram’s group is trying to downgrade the framework agreement. Misuari already admitted that some of his men are with Kiram,” he said.

Lawyer Emmanuel Fontanillas, Misuari’s lawyer and MNLF spokesma, told the Inquirer that the sultan of Sulu’s decision had Misuari’s blessing.

“This is the current MNLF position,” he said, adding that Misuari even allowed MNLF men to join the sultan’s group.

MILF peace panel chief Mohagher Iqbal said he believed otherwise.

“Sabah is not part of the (MILF) agenda (in the talks) and it has no serious implication,” he said.

Iqbal also played down Kabalu’s statement that Kiram’s revival of the Sabah claim would anger Malaysia.

“The MILF sees no repercussion,” Iqbal said.

Kabalu said that what Kiram and Kuala Lumpur should do is sit down and talk over the Sabah claim.

“There’s no substitute to peaceful negotiation. Or else this will end up in bloodshed,” Kabalu warned.


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