Philippines: Rebels welcome Libya's offer to head peace monitoring mission

Cotabato City, 12 May (AKI) – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Philippines' largest Islamic separatist group, welcomed Libya's offer to replace Malaysia and lead the international peace monitoring mission in war-torn Mindanao.

The Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, through its special envoy Salem Adam, said Libya is ready to take over Malaysia's role, as the Southeast Asian country has already started to withdraw its representatives from the Philippines.

Ghazali Jaafar, the vice chairman for political affairs of the MILF, said on Monday that a decision will be taken after discussing the offer with Manila but it praised Libya's initiative.

Malaysia has been the leader of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) since it was first deployed in Mindanao in 2004.

The IMT is tasked with ensuring the ceasefire holds and fostering a better environment for the peace negotiations between the government and the MILF. The body has been credited with cutting skirmishes between troops and Muslim rebels from 700 in 2002 to fewer than a dozen last year.

The unarmed monitors team included 41 troops from Malaysia, 10 from Brunei, two Libyan diplomats and a Japanese development worker. Half of the Malaysian representatives have already left and the rest are expected to leave by September.

The IMT has offices in the cities of Cotabato, Da≠vao, General Santos Iligan and Zamboanga, which also monitors the situation on Basilan Island.

The Malaysian pull-out followed Kuala Lumpur’s frustration with the pace of the peace talks and raised tensions in Mindanao with the MILF and the government blaming each other.

Talks between the government and MILF have been going on for more than 10 years.

Peace talks stalled in December as the two sides attempted to hammer out an agreement on the boundaries of a new autonomous region.

The Philippines government argues that under the Constitution, a referendum must be held to create the new autonomous region - a move strongly opposed by the MILF.


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