New MNLF chairman to Misuari: Support peace deal

Angela Casauay

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Abul Khayr Alonto tells Nur Misuari to 'come down from heaven to earth'

SUPPPORT. New MNLF chairman Abul Khayr Alonto says his group supports the peace agreement with the MILF. Photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Let’s all cooperate and endorse this agreement.

On the day of the signing of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the newly-elected chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) vowed to support the creation of the new Bangsamoro political entity.

“What we are doing right now is we are inviting all sectors of Bangsamoro, especially the faction of Misuari and the faction within the faction of Misuari to participate,” MNLF chairman Abul Khayr Alonto told reporters Thursday, March 27, in Malacañang.

The Misuari-led faction of the MNLF was behind the bloody Zamboanga siege in September 2013. Misuari is now facing charges over the incident. Misuari’s followers said they seized the capital to dramatize their protest against the peace process with the MILF that they felt excluded them.

But MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim himself made special mention of the MNLF in his speech Thursday in Malacañang. He said the MNLF is very much a part of the deal. (READ: ‘This is the crowning glory of our struggle’)

The MILF broke away from the MNLF in the 1970s, at the height of the conflict between government forces and Muslim rebels.

Recently, Alonto was recently elected by 35 out of the 39 surviving members of the original MNLF Central Committee as their head.

Alonto appealed to Misuari: “I’ve always told him – don’t ever throw this problem to the next generation. Don’t throw it to our children. Don’t let them suffer what we have gone through. If we can finish it, if we can do it, then let’s finish it. If it requires the consolidation of the Moro National Liberation Front, support it.”

With most factions of the MNLF now united for the Bangsamoro, Alonto said Misuari has no other option but to come on board.

What about the OIC?

Asked what will happen to Misuari as the new Bangsamoro political entity emerges, Alonto said: “He will just be Misuari and that is his own problem,” Alonto said.

“Misuari must come down from heaven to earth,” he added.

The MNLF is supporting this peace deal because it contains features not found in the 1996 peace pact it signed with the Ramos government, especially on wealth-sharing and power-sharing, Alonto said.

“The MILF is very transparent,” Alonto said. “They consult people.”

Asked whether his leadership of the MNLF is acknowledged by the Organization of the Islamic Conference – the third party that brokered the peace talks between the group and the government, and now also facilitating the tripartite review of the peace pact, Alonto said it is not the OIC that dictates the affairs of the organization.

“The OIC does not dictate who will be the chairman but the OIC recognizes the rightful leadership of the MNLF. They will encourage it. And as you know, the OIC issued a statement. They condemned the deplorable act of members of the Moro National Liberation Front led by its founding chairman Nur Misuari,” he said.

Does the MNLF want a role in the interim transition government that will be led by the MILF?

Alonto said no, saying he’d rather let the younger generation take an active role in it.

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