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MNLF seen to time attack with 40th round of talks between PH gov’t, MILF

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04:29 PM September 9th, 2013

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September 9th, 2013 04:29 PM

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chair for political affairs. FILE PHOTO

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines – The Moro National Liberation Front’s (MNLF) attacks in Zamboanga City seemed to have been timed for the 10-day 40th round of talks between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels that convene Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur.

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chair for political affairs, said the MNLF move was “not necessary at this time. It only complicates the situation instead of helping solve the problems of the Moro people.”

“Brother Nur has made publicly known that he was unhappy with the GPH-MILF peace process. So it is natural to have this suspicion,” Jaafar said.

Nur Misuari is founding chair of the MNLF from which the MILF broke away in 1977 over organizational questions, and differences in revolutionary strategy and political outlook. MILF founding chair Salamat Hashim was MNLF vice-chair when his faction split from Misuari.

When the MNLF concluded the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) with the government, the MILF said it would negotiate to further expand the political and economic concessions gained by the Moro people.

The already 16-year peace process between government and the MILF is in the homestretch now, almost one year after inking the landmark preliminary Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

Misuari has criticized the FAB as an instrument that will water down the gains of the 1996 FPA although the MILF leadership has assured him it is aimed at strengthening the autonomous political entity for the Moro people.

During the 10-day exploratory meeting in Kuala Lumpur, the parties are expected to build consensus on power-sharing and normalization which are the last two remaining issues on the negotiating table.

Apart from venting his ire on the GPH-MILF peace process, Jaafar said the attack also sought to send a message to government and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that “he (Misuari) is still a force to reckon with.”

About 17 years after clinching a peace deal with the government, the MNLF has been rocked by factionalism with the major groupings belonging to Misuari and former Cotabato City mayor Muslimin Sema.

Last week, Sema’s faction agreed to cooperate with the government on the rollout of a program aimed at building peaceful and resilient communities among once conflict-affected villages in Mindanao.

Jaafar said OIC diplomats would meet soon in Guinea Bisau, hence, the Zamboanga attack could be well in time to send that message.

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