Philippines, Muslim rebels agree on peace draft
MANILA (REUTERS) - The Philippine government and Muslim rebels have agreed on a peace deal to end a 40-year conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people, President Benigno Aquino said on Sunday, paving the way for a political and economic revival of the country's troubled south.
The agreement sets in motion a roadmap to create a new Bangsamoro autonomous region in Muslim-dominated Mindanao areas of the south of the country, before the end of Mr Aquino's term in 2016. Bangsamoro refers to Muslim and non-Islamic minority people in southern Philippines. The country is mainly Roman Catholic.
Expectations are high that after nearly 15 years of violence-interrupted talks, both the government and the country's largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will work side-by-side to realise the promises contained in the agreement, to be signed on Oct 15 in Manila.
The signing will be witnessed by Mr Aquino and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.