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Phillipine rebels sign key pact in peace process

Jan. 25, 2014 at 1:37 PM

MANILA, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- The governor of Muslim Mindanao congratulated the Philippine government and Islamic rebels for completing a critical step in their peace negotiations.

Gov. Mujiv Hataman said in a written statement Saturday the agreement was a "leap of our collective endeavor in attaining peace in this part of the country."

"We commend the panels for persevering and braving the needed sacrifices and heeding the clamor of the great majority of Filipino for a peaceful resolution to the decades-old conflict in Mindanao," Hataman wrote.

Officials from the Manila government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed the Annex on Normalization, the last of four documents that make up the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

"We also congratulate all those who took part, the leaders and individuals, who have, directly or indirectly, become part of this success -- a leap to our collective endeavor in attaining peace in this part of the country," Hataman said.

The Philippine government issued a statement saying the final annex document opened the door to a permanent and comprehensive peace deal with the Moro rebels. "President (Benito) Aquino's vision and compassion and his love and resolve for Mindanao has brought us to this new era of the Bangsamoro, where dreams of peace and prosperity may begin to overcome the nightmares of the past," the statement said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a written statement: "This agreement offers the promise of peace, security, and economic prosperity now and for future generations in Mindanao. Both sides are moving closer to the vision of a just and peaceful solution as outlined in the October 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro."

The Moros, however, appeared less enthused, the Philippine Daily Inquirer said. A spokesman for Mindanao's other rebel group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, warned that while the Moro rebels made compromises in the negotiations, the Philippine legislature might very well refuse to ratify the deal unless additional compromises are made by the Moros.

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