Nur brings Bangsamoro cause to OIC again; OIC appeals for MNLF, MILF unity

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 October) – From Davao City to the OIC.

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chair NurMisuari vowed on Sunday to bring to the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Bangsamoro cause which he said was betrayed by the signing on October 15 of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

ALLAHU AKBAR. Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members and supporters shout "Allahu Akbar" (God is the greatest) as they listen to MNLF leader Nur Misuari's speech during their 17th "Grand Summit Gathering" at the Crocodile Park in Davao City on Sunday, October 21. MindaNews photo by Ruby Thursday More
ALLAHU AKBAR. Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members and supporters shout “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest) as they listen to MNLF leader Nur Misuari’s speech during their 17th “Grand Summit Gathering” at the Crocodile Park in Davao City on Sunday, October 21. MindaNews photo by Ruby Thursday More

The signing was witnessed by Prof. Ekemelddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the 57-nation OIC.

Misuari told the “Grand Summit Gathering”  at Crocodile Park in this city he claimed to be the “official capital of the BangsamoroRepublik,” that he was informed during his meeting with Ihsanoglu morning of October 15, “of the OIC plan to call for the resumption of our restored Tripartite High Level Peace talks following the disastrous failure of the March 1 to 3 Bandung high level meeting.”

The Bandung meeting on the review of the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between GPH and MNLF was held on March 1 to 2. It was attended by Misuari and representatives of the MNLF Council of 15, the group that ousted Misuari as chair in  April2001, representatives from GPH and Indonesia, facilitator of the 1992-1996 GPH-MNLF peace talks and the tripartite reviews starting 2007.

Reading from his prepared speech written in English, Misuari, dressed in khaki pinstripe suit shielded by umbrellas from the scorching heat of the sun, asked the crowd: “If you allow me to explore the possibility of resuming the peace process through the usual initiative of the OIC and its 57 states  then I fly, then I fly to the Middle East on your behalf and for the sake of peace that we all want for our homeland,” he said.

Crowd estimates varied from 3,000 to 10,000 but a Manila-based photojournalist used to covering rallies in the national capital placed the figure at 1,500 to 2,000.

Members and supporters of the Moro National Liberation Front rest under a Forward truck as they wait for their leader Nur Misuari during their 17th Grand Summit at the Crocodile Park at the Crocodile Park in Davao City on Sunday, October 21. MindaNews photo by Ruby Thursday More
Members and supporters of the Moro National Liberation Front rest under a Forward truck as they wait for their leader Nur Misuari during their 17th Grand Summit at the Crocodile Park at the Crocodile Park in Davao City on Sunday, October 21. MindaNews photo by Ruby Thursday More

“Please raise your hands”

Misuari said he would invite a “limited number of representatives from among tribal highlanders, Christians and Muslims” to be part of his entourage.

“I want you to please raise your hands and exclaim ‘Allahu Akbar’ should you permit me to travel abroad with my entourage,” Misuari said and as he chanted “Allahu Akbar,” the crowd replied “Allahu Akbar” thrice, a number of them raising a clenched fist.

“Therefore I have your permission,” he said, adding, “I can travel after this meeting, I will give instruction to prepare for my flight to the Middle East.”

Misuari also announced that the OIC Secretary-General invited him to the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) meeting in Djibouti, Africa on November 15 to 17.

The MNLF has been sitting as observer in the OIC since 1977, before Misuari’s vice chair, Salamat Hashim, broke away to form what initially was referred to as the “New MNLF” but was later renamed MILF.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim was also invited to the CFM.

OIC’s stand

The OIC had brokered the talks between the GPH and MNLF since the 1970s, eventually leading to the signing of the Tripoli Agreement in 1976 and the Final Peace Agreement in 1996. It also brokered the Tripartite Review (GPH-MNLF-OIC) on the implementation of the 1996 peace pact starting 2007 and the Tripartite Ad Hoc High-Level Group.

Starting April this year, Ihsanoglu’s office had been sending a representative to the GPH-MILF peace talks in Kuala Lumpur, as observer.

Ihsanoglu’s office had requested the GPH and MILF peace panels for an observer’s seat in the KL talks. The panels approved the request in March.

In July, Ihsanoglu sent a message to the MILF’s Bangsamoro Leaders Assembly in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, that since the peace processes with the MILF and MNLF “revolve around the same problem and the same territory, the process of coordination between the two fronts has become of utmost necessity.”

“The OIC is trying to set up a Bangsamoro Coordination Forum between the MILF and MNLF, and I seize this opportunity to appeal once again to the two fronts to make this forum operative before the next meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers scheduled to be held in November,” Ihsanoglu said in his message read for him by Tahir Ahmad Saif, Deputy Head of the OICMinorities Department.

On Oct 10, the OIC spokesperson in a statement on the October 7 announcement of President Aquino that a Framework Agreement had been reached between GPH and MILF, said the OIC “received the news with both hope and cautious optimism, hoping that it will constitute a solid foundation for an overall agreement that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.”

On October 14, the OIC website reported that Ihsanoglu flew to Manila to witness the signing of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement and that he would meet with President Aquino and a number of senior government officials as well as with MILF chair Al Haj MuradEbrahim.

The OIC article did not say if Ihsanoglu would meet with Misuari.

Misuari, however, told the crowd gathered at the Crocodile Park grounds Sunday that he met with Ihsanoglu at the Shangrila Hotel in Makati City morning of October 14.

Ihsanoglu was at the signing rites in Malacanang that afternoon.

MNLF SUMMIT, A Moro woman holds a flaglet of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) during their 17th "Grand Summit Gathering" on Sunday, October 21 at the Crocodile Park in Davao City. Mindanews Photo by Ruby Thursday More
MNLF SUMMIT, A Moro woman holds a flaglet of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) during their 17th “Grand Summit Gathering” on Sunday, October 21 at the Crocodile Park in Davao City. Mindanews Photo by Ruby Thursday More

OIC SecGen meets PNoy

On October 16, the OIC website said Ihsanoglu had an “hour-long private meeting” with President Aquino after the signing rites.

Ihsanoglu “congratulated the President for this important first step for terminating the long standing conflict and expressed hope that it will usher a new era of tranquility and peaceful developments for the region,” the report said.

“He also emphasized the need to link the expected agreement which will come up as a result of the Framework Agreement to the 1976 Peace Agreement,” the OIC report said.

It also said Ihsanoglu assured President Aquino of the“continuous support of the OIC to all peace efforts, and emphasized on the unity of the Bangsamoro People which is more needed now than ever.”

It said the OIC is “at present is assisting the process of bringing MILF and MNLF together to intensify their cooperation and coordination” and that the establishment of a “Bangsamoro Coordination Council” is “under discussion for that purpose.”

Ihsanoglu also proposed the holding of a tripartite meeting, again involving the GPH, MNLF and OIC, “to find practical and implementable solutions for the remaining unresolved issues.”

Cited, commended

The proposed meeting, the OIC said,  “is expected to tackle also difficulties that is faced in the full implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement or any discrepancies that may exist between the Agreements signed with the MNLF and the new Framework Agreement with the MILF,” the report said.

Ihsanoglu’s proposal “will be discussed thoroughly” in the Djibouti conference next month, it added.

In an article dated October 24 but posted on the OIC website on October 22, the signing of the FAB was cited and commended by Ihsanoglu in his Eid’lAdha message to the Islamic Ummah worldwide. Eid’lAdha, the Islamic Feast of Sacrifice, is on October 26.

“We here express our great satisfaction at what has been achieved for Muslims in Southern Philippines through the recent conclusion of the Framework Agreement between the Philippines Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). We, at the OIC, are endeavouring with diligence for the unification of the ranks of Muslims in this country, and it is our hope indeed that the conclusion of this Agreement will form the starting point for a developmental process in the province of Mindanao,” the OIC website said.

“Tripartite conspiracy”

Misuari said a “tripartite conspiracy” had betrayed the Bangsamoro cause. He identified the three “conspirators” as President Aquino, Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohammad Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak and MILF chair Murad.

“We hopethat the entire world will ask these three conspirators to account for these misdeeds or wrongdoing,” he said.

Misuari  in early October filed his certificate of candidacy for ARMM Governor in  the May 13, 2013 elections.

“Largest and fastest-growing armed forces”

Misuari maintains the record of longest-serving governor in the 22-year old ARMM.  He served as governor from September 30, 1996 to November 24, 2001 when he was arrested off Sabah, Malaysia for alleged illegal entry, days after he was alleged to have led a rebellion in Sulu and in Zamboanga City.

Misuari was introduced at the Summit as “President of the BangsamoroRepublik.”

He told the crowd on Sunday that the MNLF’s Bangsamoro Armed Forces “is recognized everywhere in the Islamic world as the largest and fastest-growing armed forces in the entire world.”

Not everyone in the crowd who were new camouflage military uniforms or black shirts knew the meaning of the acronyms written on their shirts.

“Ano yang NUSO?” MindaNews asked at least three men wearing camouflage pants and a black shirt imprinted with that acronym.

Their answers were consistent. “Walakokabalo” (I don’t’ know), they said in Cebuano. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

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