Pols wooing MILF get turned away, says Iqbal

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07:38 AM April 7th, 2013

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By: Edwin Fernandez, April 7th, 2013 07:38 AM

Chief MILF negotiator Mohaqher Iqbal

COTABATO CITY—The Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) chief peace negotiator said here “a lot” of politicians had been courting the rebel group to bolster their candidacies among the Moros.

“A lot of politicians have been wooing the MILF for support in the 2013 midterm balloting,” said Mohagher Iqbal in a radio interview on Thursday.

Iqbal, however, did not identify the politicians or the positions they were aspiring to.

But he said the MILF turned them away as the group’s policy of nonintervention in elections remained in effect despite it having signed a preliminary agreement for the establishment of a Bangsamoro government.

Iqbal said the MILF instead told the politicians to support the peace process because their positive stance could convince Moro voters to support their political bids.

Make it a priority

“[They should make it one of their] priority issues during the campaign period,” he said.

Iqbal said that while the MILF as an organization maintained its policy of not endorsing any candidate, it was not preventing its members from casting their ballots.

He said the rebel group had also made it clear to politicians that they could freely campaign in MILF territories at anytime, without having to shell out money for a “revolutionary tax.”

Iqbal said the MILF’s only interest these days is the success of the peace negotiations.

Beside security forces

This was also why, he said, the MILF would help to ensure that the balloting would be peaceful and orderly.

He said MILF guerrillas would be deployed alongside soldiers and policemen to help maintain the peace during the elections.

“In cooperation with the government and its military and police units, the MILF will help ensure safe and fair elections,” he said.

Iqbal said the MILF believed a peaceful balloting would also help the peace process.

In the past, the peace talks were repeatedly threatened by clashes, a number of which occurred during election season.

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