Malaysian stand-off said result of Philippine peace deal

Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:58am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

LAHAD DATU, Malaysia (Reuters) - A peace deal between the Philippines and Muslim rebels has alienated traditional rulers and their followers about 100 of whom have occupied a village in nearby Malaysia, a member of the old ruling family said on Monday.

The stand-off with police in Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah has threatened to spark tension between the Philippines and Malaysia, whose ties have been periodically frayed by security and migration problems along their sea border.

Security analysts had warned that the historic peace deal signed by the Philippine government and Muslim rebels last October to end 40 years of conflict in the Philippine south risked stirring instability by alienating powerful clan leaders.

Jamalul Kiram III, 74, a former Sultan of the Sulu region of the southern Philippines and brother of the man Philippine provincial authorities regard as sultan, said the peace deal had handed control of much of Sulu to Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, ignoring the sultanate.

He said the group of sultan loyalists had gone to Malaysia as a protest action in response to what they saw as the unfair peace deal, and they would not back down.

"Those people are willing to die for our cause," Jamalul told Reuters in the Philippines.

The group of 100 armed men has refused to move from the village they have occupied for nearly a week, despite pleas from both the Malaysian and Philippine governments to return to the Sulu archipelago on the Philippine side of the sea border.

Malaysian police armed with machine guns have surrounded the village in a palm-oil plantation area.

Malaysian officials said over the weekend that the group's demands would not be met and that the men would be deported soon, without specifying how.   Continued...

Malaysian policemen man a road block on a street leading to Kampung Tanduo, the area where the armed men are holding off, in Felda Sahabat outside Lahad Datu town on Borneo island February 18, 2013. About 100 armed men holed up in a village in the Malaysian state of Sabah are refusing to leave, saying they have links with the Sultanate of Sulu in the Philippines which has a historic claim over the northern tip of Borneo island. Malaysia police and army officials have formed a tight security ring around the village, media said, with navy boats patrolling nearby islands. The gunmen landed near the coastal town of Lahad Datu on Tuesday. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad