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GRP, MILF seeking Sudan help on Mindanao

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net, Agence France-Presse
First Posted 14:26:00 02/06/2009

Filed Under: Mindanao peace process

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Government and Moro rebel peace negotiators will seek the help of Sudan to help work on the resumption of the stalled Mindanao peace process.

In separate phone interviews, Presidential Peace Adviser Avelino Razon Jr. and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said officials from South Sudan are coming to the country for lectures next week.

Sudan is the East African nation where a successful peace agreement was recently hammered out between its Muslim north and predominantly Christian south. Under the agreement, South Sudan was granted autonomy and will hold a vote on full independence in 2011.

The visiting Sudanese are among those who helped forge the peace agreement.

“We can learn from their experience, especially in DDR [disarmament, demobilization, re-integration]. They will be here purely for lectures,” Razon said. “We are seeking the help of many countries, like Northern Ireland.”

“We can learn a lot from them. They had a successful agreement,” Iqbal agreed.

The government has said it will only agree to resuming talks with the MILF under the principle of DDR.

The MILF, on the other hand, maintains talks can only resume if the government signs the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), which the Supreme Court has struck down as constitutional.

Razon said the visiting Sudanese would begin lectures for government negotiators on Monday.

Lectures for the MILF panel, on the other hand, will be at the rebels’ Cotabato base after the sessions with the government negotiators, Iqbal said.

Last month, government and MILF negotiators also met with negotiators of the 1998 Good Friday agreement between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had said that she was making peace in Mindanao a “personal commitment” in 2009.

In a related development, Agence France-Press reported that a Geneva-based organization it is sending mediators who help forge the Sudan agreement to discuss the stalled negotiations in Mindanao.

“The Center is lucky enough to be able to share experiences from where it has been involved in other regions in conflict,” David Gorman, mediation advisor with the Cente for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD) said in a statement.

Mindanao’s Muslims have been fighting for the return of their ancestral land for more than 40 years.

The region’s peace process has been at a standstill since August when the Supreme Court stopped the signing of the MOA-AD.

A number of MILF commanders then led attacks on communities in western and central Mindanao, triggering hostilities that forced an estimated 500,000 people to flee their homes.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

FriUTC2009-02-06T10:07:41+00:00UTC02bUTCFri, 06 Feb 2009 10:07:41 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am02

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