Malaysia agrees to extend peace monitor mission in Mindanao
() - August 15, 2005 - 12:00am
Malaysia has agreed to extend by a year the stay of a 60-strong international contingent helping monitor and safeguard a two-year-old truce between Muslim guerrillas and government troops in the southern Philippines, officials said yesterday.

Most of the foreign ceasefire monitors, composed mainly of Malaysian troops, will end their one-year tour of duty in Mindanao next month, prompting the government and the guerrillas to ask Malaysia to extend their stay for another year, Philippine officials and the rebels said.

Malaysia agreed to the request and will send a new batch of more than 40 monitors to replace the outgoing ones in the next few weeks. The first contingent will arrive in Manila today, said Malaysian defense attaché Abdul Hadi said.

Brunei and Libya have also contributed to the Malaysian-led contingent, and will replace their representatives once they have completed their one-year assignment, he said.

The ceasefire has considerably reduced clashes between government troops and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front across Mindanao, and allowed the holding of Malaysian-brokered peace talks aimed at ending a decades-long separatist insurrection that has killed thousands of people and scuttled economic development.

Both the government and the rebels welcomed Malaysia’s decision.

"This is a booster shot, a new demonstration of confidence for the talks," presidential adviser on the peace process Rene Sarmiento told The Associated Press.

Rebel spokesman Eid Kabalu said the foreign monitors, who are based in five provinces, successfully reconciled a number of accidental conflicts and prevented new ones from erupting.

"The peace process is not yet over. We have to sustain peace on the ground," Kabalu said by telephone.

The next round of talks was supposed to have been held in Malaysia last month, but was postponed for unspecified reasons. No new date has been announced.

The truce has allowed government troops and police to focus on the battle against criminality and other armed groups, including the Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremist group in Mindanao, Sarmiento said. — AP

ABDUL HADI ABU SAYYAF MUSLIM ASSOCIATED PRESS BRUNEI AND LIBYA EID KABALU GOVERNMENT KABALU MINDANAO MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT RENE SARMIENTO SARMIENTO
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with