MNLF wants next year's ARMM polls postponed PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 14 November 2010 16:28

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is pushing for the postponement of next year's elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and wants to wait for the outcome of the tripartite review of the 1996 government-MNLF peace pact, which is focused on improving Moro autonomy in the South.
This was the consensus of MNLF members during the first of a series of consultations in Camp Ibrahim Sema in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao. A similar gathering will be held in North Cotabato, South Cotabato and Davao region.
Maguindanao First District Rep. Bai Sandra Sema said she will file House resolutions to convince the legislature it is important to delay the ARMM’s 2011 regional elections so that the government and the MNLF would have ample time to refine the region’s charter, Republic Act 9054, based on the review of all perceived kinks, strengths and weaknesses of the 14-year-old peace accord.
There is an ongoing review of the GRP-MNLF peace accord being undertaken by representatives from the government, MNLF and Organization of Islamic Conference.
The review is focused on five concerns: Sharia, education, natural resources, political representation of Moro communities, and regional security.
Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema, currently chair of a faction of the MNLF, said the MNLF and the government want to jointly address some of the issues.
"In the spirit of cooperation and mutuality, it’s best to refine the ARMM’s charter parallel with these issues to hasten Moro autonomy and improve governance in the autonomous region,” Sema said.
Sema said the MNLF members have been complaining of non-implementation of the accord "to the letter and spirit."
"Despite these misunderstandings on the implementation of the provisions of the accord, the MNLF never turned its back on the peace pact," Sema said, adding that "we want all of its weaknesses ironed out peacefully.”
Incumbent ARMM officials are also in favor of postponing the balloting scheduled in September next year.
According to Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, ARMM executive secretary, deferring the regional polls will also give the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) enough time to craft a final peace pact.
However, some MNLF officials, said the ARMM has to be entrusted only to qualified “caretakers” if the regional elections are postponed.
Sema said caretakers must be barred from running for any elective position in the regional government once the elections are set.
The ARMM government was under the care of the MNLF for about nine years when then Chairman Nur Misuari, was elected governor from 1996 to 2001 and later Farouk Hussin, former MNLF vice chair for external affairs.