MILF, MNLF starts reconciliation talks in Jeddah | Global News

MILF, MNLF starts reconciliation talks in Jeddah

But Misuari absent from historic meeting
/ 01:55 PM December 21, 2011

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is confident “the gap is getting closer” between it and the Moro National Liberation Front after their top leaders held a historic meeting early this month in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

In a statement, the MILF said the meeting “is a big step toward uniting their (MNLF and MILF) efforts for the common vision of empowering Moros in Mindanao.”

Finally heeding the call of Islamic states, representatives from the top echelons of the MNLF and MILF met in Jeddah December 6-7 under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC, formerly Organization of the Islamic Conference).

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“Indeed, this is a sign of the growing maturity of the Moros of Mindanao, especially their leaders,” the MILF said.

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The meeting took place while the MILF and government peace negotiating panels resumed talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Peace panel members Robert Maulana, Salim Sahaji and Mashor Haqqani represented the MILF in the Jeddah meeting. Lawyer Randoph Parcasio and Ustadz Abdulbaki Abubakar represented the MNLF.

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The MILF statement said MNLF founder Nur Misuari was in Jeddah at the time but begged off from attending because he “was not feeling well.”

According to an OIC  news release, the meeting took place at the OIC headquarters in Jeddah  at the invitation of the international organization’s secretary-general, Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.

The OIC release said  the meeting was chaired by Ambassador Sayed Kassem El-Masry, adviser to the secretary-general and special envoy for peace in the Southern Philippines.

Also participating was Talal Daous, director of the Department of Muslim Communities and Minorities at the OIC.

Last June, during the OIC ministerial conference in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, the Council of Foreign Ministers urged both the MILF and MNLF to “rally their efforts, work hand in hand for the promotion of peace and development” of the Bangsamoro people.

The recent meeting was the first step for both to begin the process of “evolving a mechanism for collaboration and consultation,” said the MILF.

According to the OIC, the two groups “agreed on the need for continued coordination among them so as to help the Bangsamoro people in Southern Philippines achieve their aspirations and recover all their political, civil and economic rights.”

“They also agreed that such coordination would include the exchange of information on the peace process and the difficulties facing either in their negotiations and about what the OIC could extend in this connection,” the OIC added.

The next round of coordination meeting was scheduled for February.

“The formula was not to unite the MNLF and MILF into a single and homogenous organization, which is not practical under current situation, but to create a ‘Consultative Forum’ wherein the two parties and other Moro organizations… will sit together to discuss issues of common concern confronting the Moros,” the MILF said.

“The scheme is far from perfect…. But given the intricacies of Moro internal affairs… (a unified Moro front) more often requires multi-layered, multi-pronged approaches… where powers are shared and decisions are consensual,” it added.

The MNLF was organized in 1968 to consolidate the Moro struggle for self-determination, waging a secessionist war in the early 1970s. Upon the urgings of Islamic states, especially Libya, it signed a peace pact with the Philippine government that scaled down its demand to political autonomy for the predominantly Muslim-populated areas in Mindanao.

In 1978, a faction led by Salamat Hashim broke away from the MNLF and was later be named the MILF.

In 1996, the Philippine government and the MNLF finally agreed on a modality to implement their 1976 peace pact. The following year, the MILF opened peace negotiations with government, vowing to further improve the political concessions already granted the Bangsamoro people.

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“The MILF sees (the consultative forum) as a way to close the gaps between the MNLF and MILF in order to carry on the Moro’s struggle on a higher level of intensity,” the MILF said.

TAGS: MILF, Mindanao, Moro Insurgency, Peace Process, Religion

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