Indonesia

‘Big chance’ last 2 annexes signed in September – Iqbal

Angela Casauay
Both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front say they are confident the final peace pact will be signed soon

END OF ROUND 39. (L-R) Government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Malaysian facilitators' secretariat head Che Kashna, and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal sign the Joint Statement at the end of their four-day exploratory talks in Kuala Lumpur on August 25, 2013.Photo by OPAPP

MANILA, Philippines – Will the final peace agreement for the Bangsamoro be signed in September?

As the government and rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ended the 39th round of peace talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Sunday, August 25, both sides expressed confidence that the final peace pact would be completed soon.  

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal told Rappler there was a “big chance” the last two annexes to the comprehensive peace agreement will be signed in the next meeting. 

“No documents were signed except for the joint statement [for this round]. There is some window of opportunity,” Iqbal said in a text message. 

In their joint statement, the parties said: 

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

Both sides still have to complete the annexes on normalization and power-sharing before the comprehensive peace agreement can be signed.

The documents contain arrangements on how power will be shared between the central government and the envisioned Bangsamoro political entity, as well as details on how the MILF and other armed groups will be decommissioned and how the Bangsamoro police force will be created. 

They will meet again in September. 

Independent Commission on Policing could convene next month

'BIG CHANCE.' Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer (L) shake hands with Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal (R) during the the closing of the 39th round of talks. Looking on is Che Kashna, head of the Malaysian secretariat. Photo by OPAPP

For this round, technical working groups on the normalization annex flew to Kuala Lumpur two days before the formal start of the talks to have more time for discussions.

Among the items discussed in this round was who would compose the Independent Commission on Policing, which is tasked to produce recommendations for the creation of a police force for the Bangsamoro. 

The 7-member team will include a local expert, a representative and an international expert from each side, with both parties selecting the chairperson. 

According to their joint statement, the commission could be convened during the next meeting. 

This round saw an “unprecedented” number of observers from various sectors. 

Aside from regular observers from the International Contact Group and civil society, three members of Congress attended the talks as observers. They were Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong, Cagayan de Oro Rep Rufus Rodriguez and North Cotabato Rep Jesus Sacdalan. 

Members of the Transition Commission, the body tasked to craft the Bangsamoro Basic Law, also sat as observers.

SUPPORT. Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong joins the 39th round of GPH-MILF talks as an observer. Photo by OPAPP

Congress has to pass the basic law, which will serve as the legal basis for the Bangsamoro political entity, before the new political entity can be established. Once it is in place, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will be deemed abolished. 

During the last round, the government and the MILF reached a breakthrough when they signed the crucial on wealth sharing. 

READ: Inside story: The deal breaker in GPH-MILF talks

The MILF is a breakaway group of the MNLF. Under the Ramos government, the MNLF signed a peace pact that put an end to their rebellion, but the former rebels are now saying some of the provisions of the agreement have not been fulfilled. 

This round of talks were held weeks after bombings iCagayan de Oro and Cotabato City

The talks aim to end more than 3 decades of armed struggle in Mindanao. – Rappler.com