Monday, April 12, 2010

Norwegian peace team visits ARMM

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - The present dispensation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao under Acting Regional Governor Ansarruddin Alonto-Adiong is fully supportive of peace efforts including the going negotiation between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

This was the message of Adiong read for him by ARMM Attorney-General Baratucal Caudang, who led regional officials in welcoming Saturday the visiting Norwegian delegation headed by Ambassador Vegar Brynildsen, Special Envoy and Norway’s Peace Process Facilitation.

Brynildsen was accompanied by Norwegian Ambassador to Philippines Knut Solem, Thomas Stageland, Assistant Director General, Ture N.L. Lundh, Senior Adviser, Aing Holm, Advisor and Lars Salvperg and a team from the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Peace Porcess, including Dr. Grace Rebollos, a member of the government's peace panel; and Director Edsel Mijares, a legal adviser.

Caudang told the visitors that upon assuming office last December 14, 2009, Adiong pursued peace and development policies and programs focused on the five key priority areas: peace, public order and security; development administration and governance; economic programs; social services; and infrastructure development.

In his speech, Brynildsen, who came to Mindanao for the first time, said the road to peace is difficult, but it has great potentials for achievement through peaceful dialogues but they believe in dialogues. He said Mindanao people deserve peace.

For his part, Solem expressed appreciation over the reception of the MILF and government peace panels of the expressed desire of Norway to become part of the International Monitoring Team, which is assisting the peace process.

Before meeting with the ARMM officials, the Norwegian delegation met here with the officials of the MILF Central Committee and IMT members.

With Norway’s expected entry, the 60-man IMT will be composed now of five countries - Malaysia, Libya, Brunei, Japan, and Norway, which has been invited by the two parties to join the peace keepers.

The IMT is tasked to monitor the implementation of truce between government and MILF forces with the in view of paving the way for the conclusion of the talks in a final accord.

Malaysia heads the IMT as well as the security and civilian protection component, while Japan handles the socio-economic aspect.

Meanwhile, Solem vowed to closely assist the talks because according to him, “peace is a pre-conditioned to economic condition.” (Jo Henry and Ali Macabalang)

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