Malaysia set on 2016 Mindanao peace deadline

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia is determined to see that its task as the lead nation in mediating and helping clinch peace in the troubled southern Philippines region of Mindanao is seen through.

The ninth International Monitoring Team - Mindanao's (IMT-M) mission commander, Major-General Datuk Abdul Samad Yaakob, said this determination was driven by the 2016 deadline the United Nations had given Malaysia in striking a peace accord.

"It has been 40 years since the conflict erupted in the Muslim-majority Mindanao, resulting in violence and the loss of thousands of lives. We are approaching the third phase and we have been given the mandate to play a role towards clinching peace by 2016, so that the people of Mindanao, especially the Bangsamoro, have their rights protected, while peace and sovereignty is preserved there," he said during a sending-off ceremony for the ninth IMT-M group's five-man advance team, at the Transit Camp, yesterday.

Present was Armed Forces headquarters chief of staff Vice-Admiral Datuk Nasaruddin Othman.

"Besides being involved in this peace process, we will not be part of any other internal strife between rival factions there. We have a neutral role to play along with the other IMT-M member countries, since the mission was launched on Aug 24, 2004, under Chapter 8 of the UN Charter, which encouraged conflicts to be settled amicably."

The Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, on Oct 15, 2012, signed a truce to pave the way for eventual peace in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. It was witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Philippines President Benigno Aquino.