JOHOR BARU 26/12/2012: The decommissioning of firearms for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters will only begin once the Bangsamoro government is in place and operational in Mindanao, southern Philippines.
MILF chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim said that at this point in time the issue of decommisioning of firearms by the MILF fighters was still under discussion with the Philippine government.
He disclosed this to Bernama when approached while attending the just-concluded 8th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), here.
Murad reminded that the relevant parties needed to create the proper situation on the ground first, before kick starting the process of decommissioning of firearms by his fighters.
He said the issue of decommissioning of firearms should not concern the MILF fighters only, but also involved the government's militias called the Civilian Volunteers.
"They should also be subjected to decommissioning (of firearms)," according to him.
The MILF and the Philippine government successfully inked a framework agreement, ending the long-running conflict between both parties which claimed thousands of lives and left the resource-rich Mindanao region impoverished.
The framework agreement between MILF and Manila was brokered by Malaysia and signed at the Malacanang Palace on Oct 15.
The historic event was witnessed by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and President Benigno Aquino III.
The rebel leader opined that the people in Mindanao would not have any need to carry firearms if there was prevailing peace and security on the ground.
The MILF leader also expected the government forces to evenly distribute their soldiers throughout the country as provided by the framework agreement and reduce the number of personnel stationed in Mindanao.