Philippine gov't not to "pre-empt, supplant" peace talks with MILF: official

10:16, June 27, 2011      

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Philippine government's chief negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Marvic Leonen on Sunday expressed disappointment over claims of the MILF that the government is set to "pre-empt and supplant" the peace talks.

"Those are simply rumors. I am disappointed that the MILF thinks we are staging schemes when we are already here in Kuala Lumpur for the scheduled talks," Leonen said as he called on the MILF to "not rely on rumors that may adversely affect the peace process."

The Philippine government and the MILF are set to meet again in the Malaysian capital on Monday as agreed during the last round of peace negotiations.

Earlier on Sunday, the MILF issued a press release which claims that a "former Moro government official" warned them of an alleged government scheme that would be parallel to the peace negotiations.

"As far as I'm concerned, the government is sincere in its objective to achieve a just and lasting peace in (the southern Philippine region of) Mindanao We will continue to reach out to the MILF to find practical and reasonable solutions to long- standing problems," said Leonen.

The MILF has been fighting Philippine government troops for decades to establish a self-rule Muslim state in the south of the predominantly Catholic country. Peace talks between the government and the MILF stalled in August 2008 following the aborted signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain. A final peace deal will touch the issues of autonomy and the civil settlement of the rebel group's 11,800-strong guerrilla fighters.

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