Period of weapons over
Moro Islamic Liberation Front's (MILF) leader Al Haj Murad Ebrahim on Thursday said that the period of weapons was over.

COTABATO
In an exclusive interview with the Anadolu Agency (AA) following the signing of an historic peace agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF on October 15, Ebrahim stated that they fought and held negotiations and won.
Those who want to make progress should examine our experiences, Ebrahim stressed.
"During the negotiations process, we did not commit any armed incident," Ebrahim noted.
"We were able to determine the general frame of peace with the agreement signed in Manila after 16 years of talks," Ebrahim indicated.
"The people of Mindanao showed their support to the agreement by hoisting a green flag on the island. The people's support is 'highly meaningful' for me," Ebrahim stressed.

-"Negotiations continue"-

"The agreement was crucial for the Philippine government to recognize the Moro government. It is evident that this government would be different than the Philippines government," Ebrahim stated.
"Articles were placed in the agreement for the establishment of the Moro government. From now on, there will be two governments in the region. We are still conducting negotiations about which rights would be possessed by which government. No doubt, this agreement was a big step towards normalizing relations between the Bangsamoro people and the Philippines," Ebrahim noted.
"The agreement gives the people of Bangsamoro the right to administer themselves without interruption by the central authority and facilitates their recognition by the Philippine state and the international committee," Ebrahim indicated.
"On the other hand, this agreement did away with the problem of independence and peace. However, signing the agreement did not imply that the struggle was over. The agreement facilitated an atmosphere in which the disagreement could be solved in a more democratic way," Ebrahim said.
"Within the process, we will negotiate topics such as income and the distribution of natural resources. We will establish our own police force. The military would be comprised of troops of the Philippines government while the police force would be established by rebels loyal to the MILF and our own people. We are negotiating the situation of our rebels in prisons and the agreement may lead to their release. We continue to talk about our problems and the final agreement would be signed later. We now have the right to establish our own government. The central government will provide us income and revenues from taxes. We also, to some extent, received the right to use our own natural resources," Ebrahim emphasized.

-"We will build our homeland from ashes"-

"There is no need to express that there is a long process ahead of us. We will sit at the table once more in Kuala Lumpur in mid-November to discuss normalization, intra-government relations, wealth and share of power," Ebrahim stated.
"The rebels and other groups have extended support to the agreement in general. Compared to the past, there are now more Christians supporting the agreement. Several people within the MILF have opposed the agreement as they were concerned about rights won in the past. The United Nations officially announced that they supported the agreement," Ebrahim noted.
"Our task is to rebuild our nation and increase self-confidence. We have to tell our people that the agreement was signed between the Phillipines government and the people of Bangsamoro. We will build our homeland from ashes after a long period of clashes. We will make demand from the international community for serious assistance," Ebrahim said.
"It is possible to sabotage the agreement by provocation. However, everyone wishes to see the continuation of the agreement. From such a perspective, we are very careful and so is the Philippines government. An international delegation is between us. There was a similar process in 2007 which got blocked. God willing, the same scenario will not repeat," Ebrahim stated.

-"Period of weapons over"-

"The rebels will not leave their weapons. A majority of them will join the police force. The remaining ones will try to get used to a normal life," Ebrahim noted.
"Both before the agreement was signed and during the agreement, we have seen great assistance from Turkey. The Turkish Ambassadress was with us when the agreement was being signed. During the process, we spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu three times. I would like to convey my gratitude to the people of Turkey both from a political and humanitarian perspective. The philanthropists in Turkey did not leave us alone for long years. The Republic of Turkey was a political mediator. Turkey has always been on our side and will continue to do so. We are aware of this situation," Ebrahim stated.
When reminded about various organizations that make armed struggle in various corners of the world and asked if his choice would be either 'negotiations' or 'war', Ebrahim underlined that such groups should prefer an agreement.
"Governments can not end such moves. As such, the governments must be open to negotiations. The period of weapons is over. We fought and at the same time sat at the negotiations and won. The most effective method to solve a problem is holding negotiations. You do have to conduct negotiations to find a solution. Those who want to make progress in their problems should study our experiences," Ebrahim also said.

-The agreement-

As part of the agreement, the new autonomous region in Mindanao will be called Bangsamoro and Muslims would have wide authority. The Muslims of Mindanao hope that the agreement reached would give them new economic, social and political rights by 2016.
The preliminary framework deal -reached after 15 years of negotiations brokered by Malaysia- constitutes a roadmap to a final settlement which would allow for an autonomous region administered by minority Muslims in the south of this predominantly Catholic country.
The agreement was signed in a ceremony on October 15, in Manila's Malacanang Presidential Palace with the participation of President Benigno Aquino III and Liberation Front leader Al Haj Murad Ebrahim. Also present at the ceremony were Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, secretary general of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu as well as heads of foreign diplomatic missions including Turkish Ambassadress to Philippines Hatice Pinar Isik.
The Anadolu Agency was the first Turkish media organization to have an interview with Ebrahim following the signing of the historic agreement.
Last Modified: 2012-11-02 09:56:22
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