Malaysian mediator expected to help resolve impasse in peace talks | Global News

Malaysian mediator expected to help resolve impasse in peace talks

/ 04:25 PM September 08, 2011

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The Malaysian facilitator of the  negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to end years of strife in Mindanao is “most likely coming” to the country to personally oversee backroom talks between the parties.

This was disclosed by at least two MILF officials, who declined to be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter.

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The need for back-channeling by Malaysian diplomat Tengku Dato AB Ghafar Tengku Mohamed was necessary to break a deadlock in the talks, the sources said.

During exploratory talks in Kuala Lumpur last August 22, the government proposed a formula that essentially counts on institutional reforms in  the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao  and progress adoption of  “doable” measures that fulfill the self-governance aspirations of the Moro people.

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But the MILF, which has been batting for the creation of a Moro sub-state, has rejected the government’s proposal.

On Monday, MILF chief Murad Ebrahim said they would not allow their peace panel to go back to the negotiating table unless the government revised its proposal.

During a forum at the Ateneo de Davao University Tuesday, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said backroom talks, coupled with increased moral persuasion by the international community, may be able to help get the negotiations back on track.

But Iqbal declined to confirm the  visit of Ghafar, who assumed the role of facilitator last April 27.

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Formerly Secretary of Malaysia’s National Security Council, Ghafar was also involved in the early stages of bringing the MILF and the Philippine government to the negotiating table upon the request of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The entry of Ghafar at this stage is raising questions about the real state of the negotiations.

Involvement of the Malaysian facilitator in such a process is rare, said B’laan Datu Antonio Kinoc, a member of the MILF peace panel.

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The first time this happened was in 2010, during the closing months of the Arroyo administration, when then facilitator Datuk Othman Abdurazak shuttled between the parties to help bridge the widening gap of their respective proposals for a political settlement.

Although it did not achieve its main objective, the back-channeling led to the parties’ declaration to continue with the peace process beyond the Arroyo administration.

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TAGS: Features, Foreign affairs, Moro Insurgency, Peace talks
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