The Straits Times
Published on Oct 14, 2012

200 Muslim rebels arrive in Manila to sign historic peace pact


MANILA (AFP/AP) - About 200 Muslim guerrillas led by their elusive chief have arrived in Manila for the signing of a preliminary peace pact to end one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies.

The pact's signing on Monday will be witnessed by President Benigno Aquino III and rebel chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, an ageing warrior in his 60s who is setting foot for the first time in Manila's Malacanang presidential palace.

The accord, announced by Mr Aquino a week ago, has won applause from foreign governments and the United Nations as a rare chance to end a rebellion that has killed an estimated 150,000 people since the 1970s.

However, rank-and-file soldiers of the 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Milf), as well as the groups' leaders and independent security analysts, have warned that many obstacles could still derail the peace process.