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

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

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

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.”


Charity rescue ship carrying 373 African migrants docks in Sicily

The Ocean Viking ship seen from the Italian island of Lampedusa, Sicily. (AFP/File Photo)
The Ocean Viking ship seen from the Italian island of Lampedusa, Sicily. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 16 min 33 sec ago

Charity rescue ship carrying 373 African migrants docks in Sicily

The Ocean Viking ship seen from the Italian island of Lampedusa, Sicily. (AFP/File Photo)
  • The Ocean Viking vessel had been waiting in heavy swells to get clearance from authorities
  • Many migrants recounted stories of alleged abuses suffered in Libya

ROME: A charity rescue ship carrying 373 migrants picked up off the Libyan coast has been allowed to dock in the Italian port of Augusta, in Sicily.

The Ocean Viking vessel had been waiting in heavy swells to get clearance from authorities for its passengers to disembark.

The migrants — who included 165 children of which 21 were aged under four — had been plucked from four packed dinghies and where mostly from south Saharan countries in Africa. They had told rescuers they were fleeing from camps in Libya where they feared for their lives.

Many recounted stories of alleged abuses suffered in Libya, with some having already attempted sea crossings to Europe only to be intercepted and transported back to the Libyan camps.

One of those rescued, Kylian, 19, from Mali, told Arab News: “In Libya we were all crammed into one home and we weren’t free to go where we wanted. I was out when bandits came, and I wanted to run to warn the others in the camp. When they fired, I fell to the ground. They thought that I was dead, and they just left me there.”

The man said he was wounded but could not access medical care in the camp. “I thought I was going to die. This happens all the time in Libya. I was finally treated because a friend took me to a Cameroonian woman who was doctor.”

The teenager was speaking on the phone of a volunteer from the maritime humanitarian organization SOS Mediterranee. All the migrants will be transferred to a quarantine ship after being tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Luisa Albera, rescue coordinator on the Ocean Viking, told Arab News: “From the survivors, we have heard gruesome tales of the inhumane treatment they had to endure in Libya.

“The last three days at sea have been extremely hard for those people, as the weather has worsened rapidly. Several babies and small children were on board; they have particularly suffered from seasickness.”

She pointed out that more than 1,200 people had died last year while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

“We are relieved that the 373 people on board our ship managed to reach a safe port, but the international community must do more to save people in the Mediterranean. Too many lives depend on this.

“EU member states must find a sustainable solution and set up a rapid disembarkation mechanism, supporting European coastal states such as Italy and Malta and working to respect international maritime law on our common coasts to the south,” Albera said.

Prior to the Ocean Viking being given permission to dock in Augusta, a heavily pregnant woman was taken from the ship to the Italian island of Lampedusa by an Italian coastguard vessel.

Italy has repeatedly impounded charity vessels for safety violations, a policy that charities claim is often a tactic to keep them from performing rescues.

The Ocean Viking is currently the only charity ship operating off Libya’s coast, although Libyan coastguard ships are also patrolling, assisted by the EU, and have intercepted 300 migrants and returned them to Libya this month.