MANILA, March 3, 2011 (AFP) – The Philippines’ main Muslim rebel group said the uprising against Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi showed him to be a power-hungry failure, although it thanked him for helping to arm its men.
In a statement posted on its official website this week, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said “the current upheaval” in Libya showed Kadhafi had not given power to ordinary people as he promised.
“He vowed to put in place a socialist order in this huge country…however, as the current upheaval shows, the power is still in the hands of the elite led by Khadafi himself,” the statement said.
“Genuine people empowerment has never been in place since 1967. Otherwise, the people who are supposed to be the bedrock of his revolution would not have taken to the streets, towns, and cities demanding…the overthrow of his government.”
Nevertheless, the 12,000-strong MILF praised Kadhafi for giving it crucial diplomatic and military support when it began its armed campaign to set up a separate Islamic state in the southern Philippines in the 1970s.
“He was the first Muslim leader who boldly declared that he is helping the Moros (Filipino Muslims) in their resistance against… the Manila government,” the statement said, adding he gave food, money and supplies.
“He also provided the money for the purchase of Belgian firearms and ammunition supplied (to the Muslim rebels)…in 1972.”
In the late-1970s, then-Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos was able to negotiate with Kadhafi to support peace efforts with the Muslim rebels.
More than 150,000 people have died in the conflict over the past four decades, according to the military, and sporadic clashes between Muslim rebels and government forces continue to claim lives.
The MILF and the government last month began a fresh round of peace talks.