UN, EU Welcome New Law Giving Extra Autonomy to Muslims in Southern Philippines

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UNDP Philippines: A man harvests long-blade grass from a field in Mindanao, Philippines.

Philippine president signed law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region

UNITED NATIONS — The UN Secretary-General António Guterres,on Friday welcomed a new law which grants extra autonomy to Muslim communities living in the Southern Philippines, describing it as a “landmark achievement on the road to lasting peace”.

Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, signed the new legislation, formally known as the Organic Law for Bangsamoro in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, on Thursday, raising hopes that years of separatist violence involving central Government troops and militants from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, can be brought to an end.

According to news reports, the long-anticipated new autonomy came four years after the Government signed a peace deal with the separatist group, which dropped its bid for full independence, seeking instead a new deal over self-rule.

The Front began its uprising in 1978, marking a period of violent confrontation which left around 120,000 dead. The new expanded autonomous region in the south, will be led initially by a transitional authority, before being run by a new parliamentary body, say reports.

The statement from the UN chief said that the UN “will continue to support the Philippines in the implementation of the law, and to help build the capacity of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority as an effective conduit for peace, democratic governance, and human rights”.

Meanwhile, The EU said on Friday the law on comprehensive autonomy of Moro Muslims will contribute to peace and stability of the country.

“The passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law by the Congress of the Philippines and its subsequent signing by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte represents an opportunity for the Filipino people to embrace peace and stability after decades of strife,” the EU foreign affairs and security policy spokesperson said in a written statement.

The statement said the move came after over two decades of negotiations between the two parties; the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“It comes after 21 years of formal talks after the first cease-fire agreement between the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“It underlines both parties’ commitment to peace and their ability to tackle a variety of complex matters through a comprehensive and inclusive law,” it said.

It also praised those who were involved in the process from negotiations to adoption of the law, and said they undertook an important work. — Agencies

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