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OIC backs Mindanao peace process; tells MILF, MNLF to unite for peace 

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OIC photos show Secretary-General Iyad bin Ameen Madani during a meeting in Davao City with leaders and representatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front. And Malaysia Foreign Minister Dato’ Sri Anifah Hj. Aman.

DAVAO CITY – The Philippines said it has the full support of the influential Organization of Islamic Cooperation on the peace process with Moro Islamic Liberation Front following the visit of Secretary-General Iyad bin Ameen Madani to Mindanao.

Madani led a delegation in Philippines and met separately with leaders of both the MILF and its rival group Moro National Liberation Front on April 19 and 20 in Davao City and has reaffirmed his support to the peace process.

He stressed on the need for unity, agreement and consideration of the role and importance of each group to achieve peace and prosperity in the region.

Madani came to the Philippines to push forward the peace agreement and the autonomous Muslim government in southern Philippines. Madani said the OIC – formerly the Organization of Islamic Conference – is encouraged by the sincere desire and the serious effort displayed by both the MILF and MNLF, and the Filipino government in the peace process.

His visit – the first visit by an OIC Secretary General to Mindanao – came following the January 25 clash between MILF and Filipino police commandos that killed more than 5 dozen people in Maguindanao’s Mamasapano town. The fighting have further delayed the peace process and the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Madani then presided over the meeting of the Bangsamoro Coordinating Forum (BCF), which was formed in 2014 for the MILF and MNLF to work together. And both sides agreed that the BCF is the best mechanism for discussion and exchange of information, and would continue to exert their efforts for the benefit of the peace process.

“We feel on both sides the sincere desire, and the serious effort to reach a conclusion (in the peace process). We are optimistic. We are supportive,” he said.

Both the MILF and MNLF were also invited by Madani to another meeting on the sidelines of the 42nd Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Kuwait on May 27.

Madani also met with Philippines’ Foreign Affairs Secretary, Albert del Rosario, on April 17 and other lawmakers – House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Representatives Rufus Rodriguez and Bai Sandra Sinsuat Sema; and Senator Teofisto Guingona III.

Del Rosario said the Aquino government appreciates the role of the OIC in bringing peace to southern Philippines.

Madani also reviewed the progress of the peace process with the Ambassadors of OIC Member States posted in Manila during a dinner hosted by Saudi Ambassador Dr. Abdullah Al-Bussairy.

He arrived April 16 together with Sayed El-Masry, OIC Special Envoy for Peace in the Southern Philippines; Maha Mostafa Akeel, Director of the OIC Department of Information; Dr. Hassan Ahmad Abdein, Head of the OIC Department of Muslim Communities and Minorities; Saidu Dodo, Liaison Officer for OIC Special Envoy for PCSP; Mohammed Adoum, Personal Assistant to the OIC Secretary-General; Mohammed Naghi, Protocol Officer; and Ahmad Madani.

Madani travelled to the Philippines from Malaysia where on his last day there met with the Foreign Minister Dato’ Sri Anifah Hj. Aman and they discussed the Philippines-MILF peace agreement. Malaysia is brokering the peace talks between the Philippines and the MILF. The Saudi-based OIC currently has 57 Member States and a dozen Observers and among them is the MNLF.

His visit to Mindanao coincided with a series of bombing and grenade attacks in the restive Muslim autonomous region that left one person wounded. The motive of the attacks is still unknown; however the violence occurred in the middle of a hot debate in Congress whether to strike out several provisions in the Bangsamoro Basic Law that would give Muslims in the South a wider autonomy.

Some Christian lawmakers insist the provisions were unconstitutional and among these would give the Muslims far reaching power over security and natural resources that some politicians fear would affect their interests and businesses in the autonomous region. The MILF, which has signed a peace deal with Manila, repeatedly warned that any delay in the passage of the law could trigger unrest and even war in Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)

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