There are hopes in the Philippines that a solution may soon be found to a four year Moslem rebellion in the country's southern island.
There are hopes in the Philippines that a solution may soon be found to a four year Moslem rebellion in the country's southern island. People began voting on Sunday (17 April) in a referendum on a plan for autonomy for the south of the country. The conflict has already cost more than 10,000 lives.
SYNOPSIS: Zamboanga is one of the main cities in the south where voting took place on a compromise peace formula. A Moslem rebel group.....known as the Moro National Liberation Front have been fighting for the independence of the southern provinces of Mindanao. But in the past, Philippines President, Ferdinand Marcos, has refused to consider the prospect. The compromise peace formula was put forward by the socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah, who acted as a mediator in the dispute. Foreign diplomats were flown to the south as observers when the voting opened.
First reports carried by the official Philippines news agency said there was a heavy turnout at the polls. Government military units were put on the alert in case of any violence. The news agency said voting was smooth and orderly. But there was also one unconfirmed report that there had been a clash on the southern island of Jolo. There were fears when the referendum was originally announced that there would be widespread violence. But the atmosphere seemed to be peaceful in most of the southern villages.
Temporary home for the proposed provisional government in the south will be at the Southern Command forces base. President Marcos has offered MNLF leader-in-exile Nur Misuari, a place in the proposed government. But Mr. Misuari has described the referendum as illegal in a press statement from Saudi Arabia. He said the MNLF would not take part in it. However, there was no indication that the group had organised the southerners to boycott the polls in the Mindanao provinces.