Malaysia appoints new mediator in Mindanao peace talks | Global News

Malaysia appoints new mediator in Mindanao peace talks

/ 12:41 PM April 28, 2011

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines—Malaysia has appointed a new facilitator in peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

According to a news release from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Malaysian diplomat Tenkgu Dato AB Ghafar Tengku Mohamed assumed the function at the start of the 21st exploratory talks April 27-28 in Kuala Lumpur.

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Outgoing chief facilitator Datuk Othman bin Abdul Razak introduced Ghafar to the panels as he performed his last official act by presiding over the talks’ opening ceremonies on Wednesday, OPAPP said.

Othman mediated the Malaysian-brokered Mindanao peace process for more than nine years.

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Formerly Secretary of Malaysia’s National Security Council, Othman described Ghafar as someone who is as experienced as him.

“I am hoping that the (new) facilitator will be able to guide the talks, having heard that the GPH (Philippine government) has a timetable to complete the talks in the soonest possible time,” Othman told the panels.

The Philippine government earlier sought the relief of Othman as chief facilitator because of perceived bias for the Moro rebels, delaying the peace process’ resumption under the Aquino administration.

Chief Philippine government negotiator Marvic Leonen noted Othman’s overseeing the “nine difficult years” of the Mindanao peace process, characterized by a year-long war in 2008 after the failed signing of the initialed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).

The homeland deal was a landmark but controversial output of the talks.

Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel, lauded Othman’s “commitment to peace.”

David Gorman of the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, a member of the International Contact Group for the Mindanao peace process, paid tribute to Othman’s “great skill and dexterity in keeping the peace process on track despite the breakdown in the past due to the non-signing of the MOA-AD.”

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During a recent meeting of the negotiating panels in Kuala Lumpur, OPAPP said government negotiators “combed through” the MILF’s proposed Comprehensive Compact which the rebel group submitted for consideration last February.

Primarily, the MILF proposal sought the establishment of a Bangsamoro sub-state within the context of the Philippine republic.

Iqbal said they continue to be encouraged by public pronouncements from government negotiators that a peace agreement was likely within the next 12 months.

He stressed that “President Benigno Aquino III has a vast social and political capital that can be used to push the peace process forward.”

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TAGS: Foreign Affairs & International Relations, Insurgency, RP Peace Process
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