Former separatist guerrillas formally assumed the leadership of an autonomous Muslim region in the southern Philippines on Tuesday, despite the presence of Islamic State-linked militants in the region and discontent from ex-colleagues about being left out.
At a ceremony in southern Cotabato city, Murad Ebrahim, who led the 10,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) during decades of separatist rebellion, swapped his bush jacket for formal clothes as he took the reins as interim leader of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“Now the government that we have longed dreamt of, fought and struggled for, is finally establish in our homeland,” Murad said. “The trust and responsibility over the Bangsamoro government is now in our hands. We are accountable for it.”
Ebrahim now heads an 80-member team in leading the BARMM, a zone made up of at least five southern provinces where MILF will oversee self-rule until local voters elect their own parliament by 2022.
The former guerrillas were now “entering another level of our jihad” – an era of battling graft and other ills that for years had prevented the mineral-rich Muslim region from prospering, he said.
Full story: BenarNews
Mark Navales contributed to this report from Cotabato.
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