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Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 07:51 GMT
Arroyo suspends renegade governor
Philippine army unit
The army continues to hunt rebels on Jolo
The President of the Philippines, Gloria Arroyo, has suspended a provincial governor in the south of the country for leading an armed revolt against the authorities.

The governor of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Nur Misuari, has been given two days to explain his actions, following attacks by Muslim rebels on the island of Jolo.

At least 51 rebels have been killed during mortar shelling of army installations. Four soldiers have died and many more have been wounded.

Philippines ARMM governor Nur Misuari
Nur Misuari is not standing in ARMM elections
A faction of the Muslim separatist movement, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), said it was abandoning a five-year-old peace agreement, accusing the government of violating the deal by holding elections next week for the region.

A senior Philippine military officer, Brigadier-General Edilberto Adan, told the BBC that Nur Misuari was an isolated man facing almost certain defeat in the polls.

Mrs Arroyo - who will hold talks with President Bush in Washington on Tuesday - is expected to ask the US for additional military equipment to fight Islamic separatism in the south.

Ex-leader

Jolo is the home of Mr Misuari, who for many years led the MNLF's campaign for autonomy for the Muslim minority in the south of this mainly Christian country.

Philippines President Gloria Arroyo at WTC
Ground zero: Gloria Arroyo is visiting the US
Mr Misuari, on behalf of the MNLF, signed the 1996 peace agreement with the government but this year, the MNLF removed him from its leadership.

The BBC correspondent in Manila, John McLean, says the rest of the MNLF is apparently abiding by the peace agreement.

However, the attacks on Jolo complicate the situation in the south.

The government is engaged in delicate peace talks with another rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. But it continues to fight a third much smaller group, the Abu Sayyaf, which allegedly had links with Osama Bin Laden.

  • Communist rebels in the Philippines say they have agreed with the government to resume peace talks in Norway next month, after five months of stalemate.

    In a statement made by exiled rebels in the Netherlands, the National Democratic Front said the agreement was reached at an informal meeting there last week.

    The government suspended talks last June, only days after they had begun, following the rebel assassination of a congressman.

    The government demanded that the rebels carry out no further political killings during negotiations but the rebels refused, saying such actions were part of their revolutionary justice system.

    Over the weekend, 28 people died in the worst clashes for a decade between the communist party's armed wing, the New People's Army, and the army.

    The communist insurgency in the Philippines has lasted more than 30 years, with more than 40,000 people killed.

  • See also:

    19 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
    Philippines peace deal broken
    06 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
    Arroyo rejects US troops offer
    18 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
    'Big step' for Philippines peace talks
    10 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
    US bolsters Manila's rebel crackdown
    14 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
    Low turnout mars Philippines vote
    11 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
    Analysis: Negotiating with the Abu Sayyaf
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