MILF fighters told to boycott Armm elections


KORONADAL CITY — Al Haj Murad Ebrahin, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has ordered its 10,000 strong combatants to refrain from participating in the coming elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm).

In a statement released Monday, Murad reiterated the front’s policy on the “non-recognition, non-participation” in any elections the government is undertaking.

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His statement, which was posted at the rebels’ news website http://www.luwaran.com, jibed with the beginning of the election period in the Armm, which the MILF denounced as an antidote to the genuine resolution to the centuries-old Bangsamoro problem.

Its release came the same day that a powerful bomb exploded outside Edwin Andrews Airbase in Zamboanga that reportedly injured 10 people.

The latest Zamboanga bombing, however, will not affect preparations for the Armm polls, assured Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Jose A.R. Melo, who added the that they are contemplating on augmenting security forces in the wake of the attack.

Armm Governor Datu Zaldy U. Ampatuan is seeking reelection with the backing of the Lakas administration party.

Murad claimed: “Armm did not and cannot cater to the basic needs of the Bangsamoro people and instead has worsened their already depressed condition and added confusion to the populace.”

On several occasions, the government has allegedly dangled the Armm to leaders of the MILF but each time it was offered, it was turned down immediately, the statement said.

Murad was reported to have rebuffed a very high unnamed Philippine government official, who offered him the Armm few years ago, saying: “What happened to our brothers in the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) when they accepted Armm will also happen to us.”

A cabinet member of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also offered Abdulazis Mimbantas, MILF vice chair for military affairs, the same post, but it was also turned down.

This cabinet member, who was not named, was reported to have converted to Islam as a means to win the trust and sympathy of the Moro people.

The Comelec has started accepting certificates of candidacy for the positions of governor, vice governor and assemblymen for the Armm polls on August 11.

The filing of COCs will run until June 4.

The Armm election is expected to be under close public scrutiny, as it will serve as a prelude to the automation of the 2010 national and local polls.

“We will learn how much better automated elections can be; and we will discover unique challenges this new model will present,” the MILF statement quoted Melo as saying. (BSS) (SunStarGenSan)

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