Philippine government officials and Muslim rebel leaders are set to sign a landmark peace deal Monday, potentially bringing an end to decades of insurgency that has claimed the lives of more than 150,000 people, AFP reports.
President Benigno Aquino III and Murad Ebrahim, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief, will sign the framework agreement, which paves the way for the creation of a new autonomous region to be administered by Muslims in Mindanao and hopefully bring about lasting peace, at the presidential palace.
The signing will be kept “simple and solemn,” presidential palace spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a press briefing on Sunday.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front had long fought for an independent Islamic state in the Philippines under protracted talks with the government over the years. Negotiations between the two camps concluded with the agreement to put in place a new political entity, named “Bangsamoro”, governed by the Muslims. A transition committee will draft the basic laws for the autonomous region which is expected to be installed by 2016.
Independent observers and foreign governments, however, reiterated that “the path towards peace remains littered with obstacles”, AFP reports. “This is just the beginning of the peace journey,” Ebrahim’s deputy for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar told AFP ahead of his visit to the Philippines.