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Norway, EU deploy ceasefire watchers in monitoring group

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The government of Norway and European Union (EU) have sent their representatives who will help oversee the ceasefire’s implementation in Mindanao.
Norway Ambassador Knut Solem identified Tor Fredrik Moe and Oddvar Midtkandal as their representatives in the security component of the International Monitoring Team (IMT), which is headed by Malaysian peacekeeping troops.

“The two arrived in Cotabato City on January 17 to take their post immediately,” the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) observed.

“[Norway’s representatives] will benefit from all rights and means of protection conveyed by the MILF, as well as by the Philippine government, to IMT,” Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief peace negotiator, said.

The involvement of the Norway came after the EU identified its own two representatives who will facilitate the humanitarian aspects of the IMT mission.
European Ambassador to the Philippines Alistair Macdonald named Cynthia Petrigh, French by nationality and formerly working with the Conciliation Resources, and Susan Margaret Robertson, a British by nationality and expert on conflict resolution to join the IMT.

The MILF said the two EU representatives will be based in Cotabato City, which is where the IMT headquarters is located.

Both Norway and the EU are newcomers in the IMT, which is composed of other countries such as Japan, Brunei, and Libya. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia are also expected to join the IMT.

IMT has for years been overseeing the ceasefire agreement between  the Philippine government and the MILF.  Its local presence is critical in stabilizing the tension on the ground as both parties are trying to restart the peace negotiation under the new Aquino government.

The Philippine government and the MILF are expected to discuss the extension of the IMT’s tour of duty, along with the renewal of mandate of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group, when the two parties will hold new exploratory talks in Kuala Lumpur on February 9 - 10.

By Peace Advocates Zamboanga/Darwin Wally T. We




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