MILF to Misuari: Zambo attack ‘unnecessary’

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Monday, September 9, 2013


ILIGAN CITY -- A top official of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has characterized as a “desperate move” the attack launched by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) forces in Zamboanga City on Monday.

The military strike carried out by the MNLF, which signed a peace pact with the Philippine Government in 1996, was “a public demonstration of frustration by Brother Nur (Misuari)” over how government dealt with his group in relation to the process of resolving the Bangsamoro question, Ghazali Jaafar, MILF vice-chair for political affairs, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone.

“This action is not necessary at this time. It only complicates the situation instead of helping solve the problems of the Moro people,” Jaafar stressed.

Misuari declared Bangsamoro independence in Sulu last August 12. His followers engaged in a firefight with government troops since 4:30 a.m. Monday and stormed a coastal community where they held hostage dozens of civilians. At least six people died while 24 were reported wounded in the clash, said Mayor Isabelle Climaco. [Read the story]

Jaafar noted that the attack seemed to be timed for the upcoming 10-day 40th round of exploratory meeting between the government and MILF peace panels that convene in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

“Brother Nur has made publicly known that he was unhappy with the GPH MILF peace process. So it is natural to have this suspicion,” Jaafar said.

Misuari is founding chair of the MNLF from which the MILF broke away in 1977 over organizational questions, and differences in revolutionary strategy and political outlook. MILF founding chair Salamat Hashim was MNLF vice-chair when his faction split from Misuari.

When the MNLF concluded the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) with government, the MILF said it will negotiate to further expand the political and economic concessions gained by the Moro people.

The already 16-year peace process between government and the MILF is at the homestretch now, almost one year after inking the landmark preliminary Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

Misuari has criticized the FAB as an instrument that will water down the gains of the 1996 FPA, although the MILF leadership had assured him it is aimed at strengthening the autonomous political entity for the Moro people.

During the 10-day exploratory meeting in Kuala Lumpur, the parties are expected to build consensus on power-sharing and normalization that are the last two remaining issues on the negotiating table.

Apart from venting his ire on the GPH-MILF peace process, Jaafar said the attack also seeks to send a message to government and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that “he (Misuari) is still a force to reckon with.”

About 17 years after clinching a peace deal with government, the MNLF has been rocked by factionalism with the major groupings belonging to Misuari and former Cotabato City mayor Muslimin Sema.

Last week, Sema’s faction agreed to cooperate with government on the rollout of a program aimed at building peaceful and resilient communities among once conflict-affected villages in Mindanao.

Jaafar said OIC diplomats are meeting soon in Guinea Bisau, hence, the Zamboanga attack could be well in time to send that message. (Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/Sunnex)

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