Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Ex-Moro rebel leader acquitted of rebellion charges; seeks elective post in South RP

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / December 2, 2009) – Former Moro National Liberation Front rebel leader Nur Misuari was acquitted Wednesday of leading a rebellion in the southern Philippines.

A lower court ruled that there was no sufficient evidence to link Misuari to the bloody attack on a major military base in Sulu province and the siege in Zamboanga city in 2001.

Several of his followers who were charged along with him were also acquitted.

Misuari signed a peace deal with Manila in September 1996 ending decades of bloody war. After the peace agreement was signed, Misuari became the governor of the Muslim autonomous region, but was eventually removed as leader of the MNLF by the group’s central committee for being incompetent.

The MNLF named Misuari’s lieutenant Muslimin Sema, also the mayor of Cotabato City, as its new chairman up to the present.

And in November 2001, on the eve of the elections in the Muslim autonomous region, Misuari accused the government of reneging on the peace agreement, and launched a new rebellion in Sulu province in an effort to stop the elections, but he failed.

Misuari then escaped by boat to Malaysia, where he had been arrested and deported to the Philippines. The government had accused Misuari of allegedly masterminding the attacks to which the former Libyan firebrand repeatedly denied. Misuari spent more than five years under house arrest in Manila.

His other leaders in Sulu, among them Ustadz Habier Malik, are still in hiding after they clashed with security forces in 2007 and held hostage a group of military officers in a failed effort to pressure Manila to free Misuari.

Misuari’s acquittal came a day after he announced that he would run for governor in Sulu, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region headed by Zaldy Ampatuan, whose brother Andal, is being accused of masterminding the brutal killings of 57 innocent people in Maguindanao province last month.

Misuari is running under the Christian movement group called Jesus Is Lord whose head Eddie Villanueva is also gunning for the presidency. But Misuari’s decision to run under the party of the Christian group shocked former supporters in the largely Muslim province of Sulu.

“We were shocked to learn that Misuari is running under the Jesus is Lord of Eddie Villanueva. How can he get support is he is to campaign under a Christian flag in the Muslim province of Sulu?” one former supporter, Abubakar, asked.

Misuari previously ran twice for governor in Sulu twice, but terribly lost to Benjamin Loong and Dr Sakur Tan the past elections. Although Misuari still has a few hundred supporters in Mindanao, his popularity is fast diminishing among the locals in Sulu. They said Misuari failed to bring developments on the province and uplift the poor living standards of Muslims in Mindanao when he was governor of the autonomous region. (Mindanao Examiner)

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