COTABATO CITY -- A Moro group bans its military and political leaders from participating in the Philippine electoral system and the general elections in May.

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has issued a memorandum addressed to all the Moro rebel group's followers directing them not to participate in the country's electoral process.

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In his memorandum released Monday, Murad said: "You are hereby directed to abide by the provisions of this memorandum banning all political and military officers of the MILF in all levels to participate in the 2010 national and local elections."

Murad said the country's so-called democratic system of choosing leaders has been divisive and acrimonious, and creates animosities and intrigues.

"It failed to produce the best and qualified people to lead the people," he said, adding that the MILF as an organization has never participated in previous political exercises in the country.

But Murad said ordinary members of the MILF are not covered by the ban although they are not encouraged to vote.

The memorandum was signed by MILF deputy chairman Ghazali Jaafar for Murad last December 29 but was only made public Monday.

Murad said usually, those with "gold, guns, and goons" get elected, thereby creating a corrupt and strife-torn society.

Under Murad's directive, all MILF officials and armed members are barred from joining political rallies, delivering speeches and joining any activity related to the forthcoming elections.

He said violators will be subjected to disciplinary action.

It was not clear whether the MILF as an organization would neither endorse nor campaign for any political aspirant.

In previous political exercises, there were MILF officials and members who have participated in the election process and were punished.

The MILF is talking peace with the Philippine government since 1997 and formal talks are expected to continue this month in Kuala Lumpur with Malaysian government as third party facilitator.

The MILF is also expecting to come up with a comprehensive, acceptable and just peace agreement with the Philippine government before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ends her term in June this year. (PNA/Sunnex)