Philippines, Muslim rebels clear last peace deal hurdle
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - The Philippine government has cleared a last hurdle in long-running peace negotiations with Muslim rebels aimed at ending a deadly decades-old insurgency in the country's south.
President Benigo Aquino hopes to secure a final peace settlement before leaving office in mid-2016 to end the rebellion by Muslim groups, which has left some 150,000 people dead.
Negotiators met from Wednesday on the outskirts of Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur to tackle a "normalisation" deal detailing how the rebels will hand over their weapons and the creation of a security force to police what would be a Muslim self-rule area.
The deal is the last of four power-sharing accords that must be agreed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, before a final peace deal can be signed. Chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer said both sides had completed discussions on the deal. She declined to immediately comment further.