Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Philippines: Negotiating peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)

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Men carrying AK47s and rocket-propelled grenades are marching in unison, following the instructions of a battle-hardened commander.

In their combat fatigues, they could easily be mistaken for government soldiers, except for a red badge on their left shoulder and the periodic cry of “Allah Akbar!”, the Arabic for “God is great!”

They are members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a rebel group fighting for the rights of the Bangsamoro people - a Muslim community in a country that is more than 80% Catholic.

Moro rebels have been fighting against the government for nearly 40 years, in one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies. An estimated 120,000 people have been killed.

It is a conflict that has nearly been resolved several times, and a fragile ceasefire has been in place since 2003.

But despite repeated attempts from both sides, something always seems to prevent a lasting settlement.

In May, there was renewed hope that a solution might be reached. A popular new president, Benigno Aquino, had just been elected into office in Manila, and one of his main campaign pledges was to restart peace talks and bring an end to the violence.

But nearly six months on, nothing has happened, and the Bangsamoro people are angry.

The News:
http://www.bbc.co.uk … sia-pacific-11925641

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