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MILF to form political party for 2016 polls

Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. AP file

CAMP DARAPANAN, Philippines — The head of the Philippines' largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), will meet his commanders, leaders and supporters Monday to finalize the organization structure of its political party for the country's 2016 national elections.

"We already completed our higher and middle structures. Now we will focus on membership," MILF chairman Ibrahim Murad said in an interview at MILF's stronghold Camp Darapanan in Maguindanao province in southern Philippines.

"Once we finalize it, we will register in the Commission on Elections and then the massive organization in the ground," he added.

The new party was named United Bangsamoro Justice Party and the MILF declared that it would participate in the future regional and local elections.

Murad said they have created a special committee tasked to lay the foundation of the political party.

"Our plan is for the MILF organization to continue as a non- government organization to focus more assisting in the social economic program along with the government. The MILF will not join the politics as organization but we will field candidates to run for office," he explained.

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Murad said their political party is open to all, including those who are not members of their organization.

On the issue of Bangsamoro Basic Law, Murad said, if congress will pass the BBL by the end of the year, a plebiscite will be conducted between January to March next year.

"We are hoping and in touch with the people in congress and senate. So far, there are no major obstacles," Murad said.

"In the ongoing pubic consultations, we notice most of the questions were more of the operation side of the BBL because lack of information. But for the general principles, there has been no questions," the MILF leader added. - Xinhua

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