MANILA— The Philippine government and Muslim guerrillas can no longer strike a final peace accord before President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo steps down in June because of limited time and differences in ongoing peace talks, the country's chief negotiator said Tuesday.
The government has focused its effort to forging an interim accord that will primarily commit the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front to continue negotiations with the next president to peacefully settle its decades-old insurrection, chief government negotiator Rafael Seguis said.
"We admit we will no longer be able to sign a comprehensive compact at this time considering the time constraints," Seguis told a news conference.
Muslim rebel spokesman Eid Kabalu agreed, saying the chances of forging a peace pact was "zero," considering the disparity between the government and rebel positions on many issues.
Several demands submitted by the rebels during negotiations brokered by Malaysia in January would require the passage by congress of new laws, including a proposal to drastically strengthen the powers of minority Muslims to run an existing Muslim autonomous region in the country's south, Seguis said. (AP)