Philippines govt, rebels meet as Muslim self-rule bill delayed
Published on Aug 1, 2014 3:22 PM
MANILA (AFP) - Philippine government and rebel negotiators began a new round of meetings Friday to draft a Muslim self-rule law after falling behind a timetable laid out in a peace treaty, officials said.
A peace pact signed in March committed President Benigno Aquino and the largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), to pass a law creating an autonomous Muslim region by mid-2016, when his six-year presidency ends.
In return, the 12,000-member MILF would disarm and help the national government to improve the lot of Filipino Muslims, who are among the poorest and most marginalised in the mainly Catholic nation of 100 million.
However, Mr Aquino failed to submit the bill to Congress on Monday, with the MILF suggesting the government was seeking to renege on its peace treaty commitments by diluting the wording of the proposed law.
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