MNLF ready to fight Daesh in Marawi, says Nur Misuari in conversation with Arab News

Moro National Liberation Front leader Nur Misuari. (AN photo)
Updated 22 September 2017
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MNLF ready to fight Daesh in Marawi, says Nur Misuari in conversation with Arab News

DAVAO CITY: Nur Misuari, the founder and leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), has broken his silence in an exclusive conversation with Arab News, in which he rejected the charges filed against him in a Philippines anti-graft court.
In his first interaction with media since the charges were filed against him, Misuari talked exclusively to Arab News in Davao City. He claimed the case was brought against him by people out to sabotage his participation in the Mindanao peace process.
Arrest warrants were issued by the Sandiganbayan (special appellate court) on Aug. 31 for Misuari and four others in two counts of graft and two counts of malversation for the allegedly anomalous purchase of educational materials when he was the governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Misuari acquired bail on Tuesday for what he termed as “trumped-up cases aimed to discredit” him, stressing he was not involved in the alleged multimillion-peso fake education projects. He said the alleged purchase took place after he was forced to end his term in office — which ran from 1996 to 2001 — and escape to Sabah, the East Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. Misuari left the Philippines when he was accused of staging a rebellion against the government, and he claims there was an attempt to assassinate him at that time.
Misuari said that one of the providers of the purchased materials, to whom he referred as “Lolit,” told his lawyer, Bong Percasio, that the payment for the project was made when Farouk Hussein sat at the helm of the ARMM after Misuari left.
He stressed the need for further investigation into the case.
“The problem here is that some people play dirty. They know that it’s just a matter of time and we can probably conclude our talks with the government,” said Misuari, who was engaged by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to participate in the ongoing peace process between the government and Muslim separatists.
Misuari said he was told “these wayward elements in our society, who are serving as puppets of the former Philippine colonial government (referring to the previous administration) and who also have links with Malaysia, spoke to some people in the Office of the President.”
He quoted these elements as saying: “Misuari has to be put in a legal quagmire so he cannot assume authority here,” and added, “Some of these people are still serving as tentacles of the former government of the Philippines.”
Amid these alleged attempts to remove him from the picture, Misuari still expressed an optimistic view of the peace process under the Duterte administration.
“With this president, probably, it is a different thing,” he said. “The president, being from Mindanao, I think he understands us much better than the previous ones. The other (administrations), they were just pulling our legs, conspiring with Malaysia.”
According to Misuari, he will complete half a century as a revolutionary on March 18 next year.
“I told the president that I do hope before the end of this half-century, we can consolidate the (peace) agreement. Otherwise we just have to continue. We cannot stop halfway through,” he stated.
At the outbreak of the Marawi siege, Misuari expressed the MNLF’s readiness to deal with the Daesh-backed Maute Group. Misuari offered to deploy MNLF fighters to help defeat the terrorist group, saying they saw the Marawi crisis as an opportunity for them to show their mettle in helping the government restore peace in Mindanao.
“I told the president... there’s no need to employ tanks, bombers, cannons, mortars. We will deal with it hand-to-hand...” Misuari said, adding that he wanted to prevent the destruction of Marawi’s infrastructure.
Asked what could happen in the event that the talks fall through, he replied: “Well, the logic of failure is war.”


10 killed in Nicaragua protests against pension reform plan

Updated 12 min 32 sec ago
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10 killed in Nicaragua protests against pension reform plan

  • Students from Polytechnic University have been holed up on their campus since Thursday evading police.
  • Murillo compared the protesters to "vampires demanding blood to feed their political agenda."
MANAGUA: Violent protests against a proposed change to Nicaragua's pension system have left at least 10 people dead over two days, the government said Friday.
In the biggest protests in President Daniel Ortega's 11 years in office in this poor Central American country, people are angry over the plan because workers and employers would have to chip in more toward the retirement system.
The government is willing to hold a dialogue and Ortega will issue a formal call on Saturday, Vice President Rosario Murillo said, adding: "At least 10 compatriots have died."
Demonstrations rocked the capital Managua and nearby cities for a third day.
The new law, besides increasing employer and employee contributions, would cut the overall pension amount by five percent.
"We are against these reforms, which means we're against this government taking from the pockets of Nicaraguans," said Juan Bautista.
He said riot police brutally attacked demonstrators like him because "the dictator does not like people to protest."
A woman nearby shouted: "The people are tired of this repression!"
Students from Polytechnic University have been holed up on their campus since Thursday evading police. Other students took refuge in nearby buildings or residences.
In Las Colinas, south of the capital, demonstrators raised small barricades and with their hands raised asked the riot police not to target them.
Four independent television outlets were taken off the air after they broadcast the demonstrations on Thursday, and two were still blocked on Friday.
Murillo compared the protesters to "vampires demanding blood to feed their political agenda."
The opposition said more than 20 people were wounded while the writers group Pen Nicaragua said that at least 11 journalists were attacked while covering the demonstrations.
"We call on the Nicaraguan authorities to act to prevent further attacks on demonstrators and on the media," said Liz Throssell, spokeswoman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights."
She urged the government to let people "exercise their right to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly and association," and urged protesters to demonstrate "peacefully."
She also said demonstrators were attacked by government supporters in the city of Masaya.
Miguel Mora, director of the private television channel 100% Noticias -- which the government blocked -- accused Ortega of applying the same censorship he imposed in the 1980s during the Sandinista Revolution.
When Ortega returned to power in 2007 he promised to "never censor a media outlet -- and today he is doing just that," Mora told Channel 14.