GPH, MILF resume peace talks in KL

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KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/10 September)—As the standoff between government forces and members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) entered its second day in Zamboanga City, the peace panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) resumed negotiations Tuesday to resolve the two remaining annexes on power sharing and normalization in Kuala Lumpur.

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman for political affairs, said the front’s peace panel members have flown to Malaysia to resume peace negotiations with their government counterparts.

“The meeting starts today (Sept. 10) until the 19th to discuss the two difficult issues on normalization and power sharing,” he said in a radio interview here.

Of the two issues, however, the MILF considers normalization as “more ticklish” because it involves the security arrangement for the future Bangsamoro government, Jaafar added.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has yet to issue a statement on the resumption of talks as of 9:50 a.m. today.

An OPAPP source said the 10-day meeting has not been cancelled.

The GPH-MILF talks resumed in Kuala Lumpur in the wake of clashes in Zamboanga City between government forces and MNLF members loyal to Nur Misuari, MNLF founding chairman.

Clashes erupted early Monday in some coastal villages there, reportedly leaving at least four people dead and 14 others wounded. Scores of civilians were reportedly held hostage by the MNLF members.

MNLF members started arriving in Zamboanga City Sunday evening as part of the party of Misuari, who was reportedly planning to go on a caravan around Mindanao.

Jaafar assured Misuari that his group “would not be left out” in the final peace agreement that the MILF is hammering with the government.

“The final peace agreement will not be exclusive to the MILF, it will be inclusive to all Bangsamoro people,” Jaafar said.

On August 22 to 25, the government and MILF peace panels conducted the 39th round of formal exploratory talks in Kuala Lumpur.

A joint statement said both sides ended the talks on a positive note, resolving several issues on the two remaining annexes on power sharing and normalization.

In a joint statement, the parties said they have achieved “substantial progress in the discussions towards finalizing the Annexes on Power Sharing and Normalization to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).”

“During the four-day meeting, the Parties worked towards the resolution of some of the most crucial issues. Despite the sensitivity of these issues, the Parties remain committed to the problem-solving approach in order to reach consensus,” they stated.

“In the spirit of partnership and mutual understanding, they are confident that an agreement will be reached soon,” it added.

GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer described the last round of talks as difficult to conclude since the agenda covered two annexes.

“We knew that negotiating on the power sharing annex will be as hard as that on the wealth sharing annex so we feel relieved having come to better understanding on the principles of intergovernmental relations,” she said. “Because we have settled fiscal matters in the Wealth-sharing Annex, it was easier for us to agree on related items in the Power-sharing Annex.”

On the normalization annex, Coronel-Ferrer related that the parties are now working on finalizing the text. “We discussed the texts on the table in order to consolidate consensus, and clarify and reconcile the contending positions,” she added.

The GPH and the MILF peace panels already signed two of the four annexes, which are the Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, and Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing.

Together with the FAB, the annexes will form part of the Comprehensive Agreement, which both parties hope to sign within the year. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)

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