Rebel group dismisses Philippine government claim on peace talks
Muslim rebels doubt that Philippine government’s claim to potentially resume peace talks before Christmas. So far, the peace panel has yet to be formed – only the government chief peace negotiator has been announced.
12/14/08 Philippines (ChinaView) The largest rebel group in the Philippines on Sunday dismissed the government’s claim that peace talks between the two sides may resume before Christmas.
“There is no full peace panel yet and the GRP (government of the Republic of the Philippines) again announced that the talks would take place on Dec. 22. All these are empty talks,” said Khaled Musa, spokesman of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in a statement posted on its website.
The government had said that it would have a full peace panel before the middle of this month, but so far only undersecretary of foreign affairs Rafael Seguis was appointed as government chief peace negotiator, he added.
“Informal talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are expected to start shortly after the President’s official visit to Qatar, possibly by Dec. 22,” according to a statement released by the Presidential Office.
Muslim rebels have been fighting government troops for decades in order to establish a separate state in resources-rich and Muslim-dominating Mindanao. Peace talks between the two sides have been halted for lack of trust and escalation of clashes in August this year.
The government, irked by the alleged looting and burning of Christian villages by MILF fighters, has scrapped the peace negotiation panel in September.