OIC official here to settle row in MNLF

Sayyed Kassem El-Masry, special envoy of OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanuglo to the Mindanao peace process, will hold a ‘peace dialogue’ to resolve a conflict caused by the election recently of Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema as the new MNLF chair in a meeting held in Pagadian City.

Sema’s election has caused restiveness among followers of detained MNLF founding chair Nur Misuari.

One of the factions that have expressed disgust over Misuari’s ouster is the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan (MinSuPala) chapter based in North Cotabato.

General Rodrigo Fabellon of the MNLF MinSuPala chapter said that Sema was chosen only by his own faction, the MNLF Executive Council of 15.

Fabellon insisted the original members of the MNLF have no plans to replace Misuari.

“Professor Misuari is the only leader recognized by the OIC.   If Sema was elected by his group, then so be it.   It’s his group that elected him, not the MNLF under Misuari,” he said.

Other factions of the MNLF, most of them based in Sulu, also refused to recognize Sema’s leadership.

El-Masry’s visit to Mindanao is part of the preparations for the May 12 third tripartite review of the September 2, 1996 Final Peace Agreement signed between the government and the MNLF.

The OIC official had said he was worried over the leadership row in the MNLF and its possible impact on the peace accord.

On Monday, El-Masry was met at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport by Dr. Parouk Hussin who belongs to another faction of the MNLF identified with neither Misuari nor Sema.

Hussin is a former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The ARMM is represented in the review of the peace pact by Governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan and Paisalin Tago, the speaker of the 24-seat Regional Assembly. (MindaNews)