Government, MILF brief OIC on status of peace talks
- John Unson () - July 22, 2006 - 12:00am
COTABATO CITY — Government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace negotiators briefed a key official of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) on the status of the peace talks in a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last Monday.

According to the MILF news website, luwaran.com, Atta El-Manan Baheit, the OIC’s assistant secretary for foreign relations, held separate dialogues with Silvestre Afable Jr. and Muhaquer Iqbal, of the government and MILF peace panels, respectively.

Afable and Iqbal both gave Baheit updates on the ongoing peace discussions, particularly on the thorny issues such as ancestral domain.

Last May, an OIC team, led by Ambassador Sayed Al-Masry, visited the country to review the implementation of the Sept. 2, 1996 peace pact between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The OIC, which brokered the peace pact, and representatives of the Philippine government and the MNLF will hold a tripartite assessment of the accord’s implementation in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia tentatively in November.

The MILF website quoted Iqbal as saying that their meeting with Baheit was "meaningful" and gave the front’s peace panel a chance to explain to him the intricacies of the ongoing peace talks.

The peace discussions between the government and the MILF began on Jan. 7, 1997, but gained momentum only about three years ago with Malaysia acting as mediator.

An international team composed of 60 policemen and soldiers from Brunei, Libya and Malaysia has since been helping enforce a ceasefire between military and MILF forces in potential flashpoint areas.

The involvement of Malaysia, Brunei and Libya in monitoring the ceasefire, however, is purely a concerted effort of the three countries and not an OIC activity.

Although the OIC has been reaching out to the MILF, inviting its central committee to the yearly ministerial meetings of leaders of its 58 member-countries, it only recognizes the MNLF as the "representative of the Bangsamoro people," giving it observer status in the pan-Islamic body.

Government sources said Baheit met with the government and MILF peace panels to gather the real sentiments of both sides on the ongoing talks and determine how far their negotiations have progressed.

AFABLE AND IQBAL AMBASSADOR SAYED AL-MASRY ATTA EL-MANAN BAHEIT BAHEIT BRUNEI AND LIBYA GOVERNMENT GOVERNMENT AND MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT KUALA LUMPUR LAST MAY MILF PEACE
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