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Philippines agrees power sharing framework with rebels

Significant progress in government-MILF peace talks

<p>MILF rebels in Mindanao (Photo by Mark Navales)</p>

MILF rebels in Mindanao (Photo by Mark Navales)

  • Joe Torres and Jef Tupas, Manila
  • Philippines
  • December 9, 2013
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The government agreed a power sharing framework with Islamic rebels in Mindanao on Sunday as the latest round of peace talks ended in Malaysia.

State officials and representatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) agreed principles to flesh out the workings of a prospective political entity - Bangsamoro - following four decades of civil war in the southern Philippines.

Teresita Deles, the government’s chief peace negotiator, said the power sharing agreement marked an important step towards autonomy in this region of western Mindanao.

"It has been a very difficult round but we were able to overcome a lot of obstacles, showing the parties’ shared commitment to finish and deliver on our peoples’ desire for peace," she said.

Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said the signing of the agreement "brings us closer to a final peace deal."

In a joint statement after the signing of the deal, government and MILF peace negotiators acknowledged the challenges in ensuring the support of all branches of government, civil society and political organizations to the peace agreement.

“In the spirit of transparency and inclusivity, the parties shall continue to dialogue with and consult the various stakeholders," the statement said.

Before the signing of the agreement, the government appealed to the MILF to follow the ceasefire deal after members of the rebels were allegedly involved in abducting 12 people in the town of Balo-I in Lanao del Norte province last week.

"With the peace talks in the end stage, let us not allow any untoward incidents, isolated they may be, to obstruct the momentum gained so far by the peace process," said Major-General Leo Cresente Ferrer, the government’s senior military adviser for the negotiations.

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