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Major MNLF faction changes guards

By Ali G. Macabalang

COTABATO CITY – A major faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) reorganized its central committee leadership recently, electing a new chairman and four vice chairmen in what it described as innovative bid to rally the Duterte administration’s thrust for inclusive peace and sustainable development among the Bangsamoro community.

Interviewed by the Manila Bulletin by phone on Monday, Sharia Court Judge Ali Limbona said the election of MNLF top officials capped a convergence on Feb-18-20 in Pagadian City where the front’s central committee also amended its charter in consonance with the current realities.

Close to 100 key MNLF leaders constituting the faction’s “expanded” central committee “unanimously” elected former Sulu Governor and Congressman Yusoph Jikiri as their chairman, vice former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema, who chaired the group for years, Limbona said.

He said the central committee created four slots for vice chairmen and elected therein Prof. Sultan Pundoma Sani for military affairs, lawyer Sultan Ferdausi Abbas for external affairs, former regional assemblyman Hatimil Hassan for internal affairs, and Romeo Sema for political affairs, Limbona said.

Limbona, a member of the front’s expanded ruling committee, said outgoing chairman Sema was elected head of the Bangsamoro People’s Congress.

In his press statement, Chairman Jikiri said he would persuade both neutral and skeptic quarters to rally all initiatives under the Duterte administration that seek to harmonize the government’s peace accords with the MNLF in 1996 and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014 towards an “inclusive” solution to the Moro rebellion.

“It now high time to silence the guns and give peace a chance because we have a President who understands better the problem of the Bangsamoro and knows the proper solution to it,” Jikiri said.

Malacanang created lately a new Bangsamoro Transition Committee (BTC), to which President named 21 members representing the MILF, the MNLF and the government in a four-month campaign to draft an expanded Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). An earlier BBL version crafted a 15-member BTC was shelved in the 16th Congress.

The reorganized group is said to be the largest of three MNLF factions. MNLF founding leader Nur Misuari leads his own faction, while incumbent Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Charman Abul Khayr Alonto heads another bloc. (Ali G. Macabalang)
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