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MILF officials urge Misuari not to sow disunity among Moros

/ 06:03 PM October 22, 2012

Nur Misuari AP PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Top officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) official urged Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on Monday not to sow disunity among the ranks of the Moros, adding the Bangsamoro would never know peace and progress if the Philippine Moros were not united.

No less than the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) asked the MNLF and MILF to “rally their efforts, work hand in hand for the promotion of peace and development” of the Bangsamoro people,” MILF chieftain Murad Ebrahim said.

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“If we fail in our mission to unite our efforts and move as one nation, then surely, we will continue to be at the mercy or tyranny of those who never want us to be freed and empowered,” he earlier said.

“The truth is, even the international community, particularly the OIC, will find it extremely difficult to extend to us any help if we are disunited,” he added.

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Last July, OIC secretary-general Ekmeleddin Ihnasoglu told both groups to make operative by November the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum where the MNLF, MILF and other organizations could “sit together to discuss issues of common concern confronting the Moros.”

Ihnasoglu said this cooperation “has become of utmost necessity” given that the cause of the MNLF and MILF “revolve around the same problem and the same territory.”

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman for political affairs said the framework agreement his group signed with the government was conspiracy at its best because this would help bring about lasting peace in Mindanao.

Earlier, Misuari told some 7,000 followers here the “Philippine colonizers” and the MILF conspired to dilute the gains of the 1996 peace treaty that the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) signed with the Ramos administration.

“Are we going to allow their conspiracy? Certainly no. Do anything to block the conspiracy because this is a complete surrender and a betrayal of the trust of the people,” Misuari said.

Jaafar said Misuari was making unfounded accusations.

“(But) if they wanted to call this a conspiracy, then it is a conspiracy to end war,” he said by phone.

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Jaafar called the Autonomous Region in Muslim in Mindanao (ARMM), which was created out of the final peace agreement between the government and the MNLF, a “failed experiment” that must be replaced by a “genuine Bangsamoro government.”

“The only objective of the Framework Agreement is to recognize the Bangsamoro governance and to deliver genuine social services to the communities,” he said.

Despite Misuari’s public pronouncements against the framework agreement, the MILF would continue to woo Misuari into supporting it, Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator, said in a separate interview.

But Iqbal said the MILF could not force Misuari should the latter stand by his decision not to support the preliminary agreement.

“He (Misuari) is welcome to join. But we are still good if he chooses not to join,” he said.

At the sidelines of the May 2010 OIC Ministerial Conference in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Ihnasoglu managed to bring Murad and Misuari together and made them agree to coordinate with each other and consolidate their respective activities “geared towards achieving the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people for genuine self-governance.”

In that agreement, Murad and Misuari recognized that “unity is indispensable to the success of the Bangsamoro struggle.”

An MILF statement that time said the two leaders also acknowledged that “there are no basic differences between their two Fronts as both are seeking to achieve peace, justice and a fair solution to the problems of the Bangsamoro people.”

However, it took until December 2011 for both groups to hold a top-level meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and agree to begin the process of “evolving a mechanism for collaboration and consultation.”

Last January, the MILF said it initiated a series of interactions among mid-level officials of the two fronts.

But by February, the MILF started complaining about Misuari’s barbs, at one time calling its negotiations with government “bogus peace talks” because its facilitator, Malaysia, was supposedly out to divert attention from the Philippine claim over Sabah.

“Misuari is really the problem,” lamented Iqbal.

Iqbal added that Murad already discussed the situation with Ihnasoglu last Oct. 15.

Iqbal said he was at a loss in trying to understand Misuari’s actuations as there was no conflict between the peace process the MILF had with government and the 1996 FPA.

“The MILF has stood (for the belief) that any meaningful political settlement for the Moro conflict should embody the full implementation of the FPA,” Iqbal added.

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TAGS: Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, News, peace negotiations, peace process, Peace Talks, Philippine Government, Regions
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