Malaysia to replace Othman as facilitator in peace talks

Posted By: Chris On:

CAGAYAN DE ORO City, Jan. 5, 2011—Malaysia will eventually appoint a new facilitator in the peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the founding chairman of a Muslim non-government organization disclosed Wednesday.

Islamic Movement for Electoral Reform and Good Government (IMERGG) founding chairman Hadji Abdullah “Lax” Dalidig disclosed to this reporter that Malaysia will replace Datuk Othman bin Abd’Razak as facilitator in the GRP-MILF peace talks.

Dalidig said that President Benigno Aquino III’s peace adviser, Sec. Teresita “Ging” Deles, revealed to him that the Malaysian government had agreed to replace Othman, whom the government peace panel accused of being biased for the MILF.

The Aquino administration had earlier requested Malaysia to replace Othman, despite vehement objection from the MILF which also requested Malaysia to retain Othman as the talk’s facilitator.

“A very high government official told me that Malaysia will appoint another facilitator to move the peace negotiations forward. And I believe the MILF will eventually accept that because they also want the talks to succeed,” Dalidig said without revealing the name of his source. Later, however, he admitted it was Deles who told him of Malaysia’s plan when he had the chance to talk with her a week ago.

Dalidig expressed hope that the new facilitator to be appointed by Malaysia will be acceptable to the government and the MILF so that the negotiations can proceed immediately.

He disclosed that the Bangsamoro nation is beginning to doubt the sincerity of the Aquino administration in achieving lasting peace in Mindanao through a political settlement to the MILF problem because both parties have not returned to the peace negotiating table despite the President’s promise to convene it right after the Ramadhan.

“President Aquino must show sincerity in achieving lasting peace by fast tracking the peace negotiations,” he said.

The key issue that has bogged down the negotiations is Othman, who the government said is in favor of the Moro rebel group.

The MILF has been fighting the government for decades to establish a self-rule Muslim state in Mindanao.

Peace talks between the government and the MILF remain stalled since August 2008 following the aborted signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).

Nevertheless, efforts are being undertaken by both sides to revive the talks.

A final peace deal will touch the issues of autonomy and the civil settlement of the rebel group’s some 11,800-strong fighters. (Bong D. Fabe)

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