Friday, August 29, 2008


Malaysia to extend monitoring team in Mindanao


Malaysia has acceded to requests from the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to extend the International Monitoring Team (IMT) for the short term in Mindanao pending the Philippines Supreme Court’s decision on signing of the agreement on ancestral domain. Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said Malaysia acceded to the requests in order to give space for both sides to resolve the agreement, which was now awaiting the Philippines Supreme Court’s judgement. He said a three-month period should be given for the Malaysia-led IMT to continue supporting the peace negotiations between the Philippines and the MILF. “After getting the views of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, we agreed to extend the IMT mission,” he told reporters here yesterday. The Malaysian peace monitoring team has been in Mindanao since 2004, as part of the IMT, comprising 41 officers from the Armed Forces and the Police, and supported by officers from few other countries. The Philippines Government and MILF were supposed to sign the agreement early this month here, but have temporarily delayed it following a judicial dispute in Manila. The Philippines Supreme Court blocked the signing of a preliminary accord granting minority Muslims an expanded homeland as part of a deal to end decades of Islamic insurgency. The court issued a temporary restraining order after Christian politicians from the southern province of North Cotabato objected to the deal because the Government had failed to publicly disclose its contents. Rais said the extension of the IMT would also allay apprehension caused by the IMT’s departure and to sustain the ceasefire currently in place as well as to prevent further violations and escalation of violence. He said Malaysia called upon both sides to exercise utmost restrain from violating the ceasefire in place and to safeguard the primacy of the peace process. “Malaysia also calls upon both sides to respect the IMT, Coordinating Committee on Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and Local Monitoring Team (LMT) in performing their duties,” he said. He said Malaysia also would continue to support the peace process as facilitator and will lead the IMT if both parties are serious in their endeavours to pursue the peace process. “Malaysia hopes that both parties will strengthen their belief that peace can only be obtained through negotiations. “Continued violence would only cause hardship and shall not resolve the key problems or issues in question,” he said. -Bernama

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