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Seguis named chief negotiator with MILF

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 13:40:00 12/01/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has reconstituted the government’s peace negotiating panel with Moro rebels, naming Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis as its head.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the negotiations could resume within December, after the full line-up of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) panel is firmed up.

However, he said it was not clear whether Malaysia would stay as third-party facilitator of the negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Arroyo announced Seguis’ appointment over lunch with reporters at Malacañang on Monday. She said the rest of the panel would be named before the middle of the month.

“He [Seguis] fits the role of [GRP] panel chairman to a T,” Ermita said, citing Seguis’ role in peace negotiations with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and his stints as ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Indonesia.

In September, Arroyo dissolved the GRP peace panel, then headed by Secretary Rodolfo Garcia, after MILF commanders raided civilians communities in Central Mindanao and after the botched Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) between the GRP and the MILF peace panels raised Constitutional questions.

“Once we have completed the panel, then we will get a response from the other side, that means we will be ready to resume the talks with them hopefully within this month of December,” Ermita told reporters.

“Probably this is a very good Christmas gift for all the people of Mindanao, that we may be resuming the talks towards the second or third week of December,” he said.

Ermita said the government has received feedback from their contacts in the MILF that the rebels were “glad and satisfied” with Seguis’ appointment.

Asked if Malaysia would stay as third-party negotiator, Ermita said the matter was “still up in the air.”

“We do not know yet because it could be Malaysia or it could be Malaysia together with other members of the OIC [Organization of Islamic Conference],” he said.

On Sunday, the Malaysian contingent to the international ceasefire monitoring team pulled out from Central Mindanao.

Ermita said contingents from Brunei, Libya, and Japan have committed to stay with the IMT while Indonesia and Bangladesh could also send ceasefire monitors.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2008-12-01T15:04:48+00:00UTC12bUTCMon, 01 Dec 2008 15:04:48 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm12

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