Region’s Chief Minister Ebrahim says extension of interim government ‘never about power, next generation to inherit what we leave to them’
ISTANBUL (AA) – Elections in the Philippines’ autonomous Bangsamoro region have been pushed back to 2025, extending the transitional government’s term three more years, under a popular law signed by the nation’s president.
The law, signed by Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday after parliamentary approval, “moves the date of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) parliamentary and regional elections to May 2025,” reported the official Philippines News Agency.
The majority-Muslim region’s first elections after an interim government was formed in February 2019 with Murad Ebrahim as chief minister had been scheduled for next year.
But public demand in the region, which gained autonomy in 2019, led to the elections being pushed back to 2025.
Murad said in a statement on Friday that the extension of the interim government speaks of the people’s desire to make sure “that we have a strong regional bureaucracy that can address our decades-long challenges and make sure that a bright future awaits them.”
“The extension will never be about power,” he added. “The establishment and the triumph of the BARMM are not only directed to specific individuals or groups but to the whole Bangsamoro, especially for the next generation who will inherit whatever we leave to them during this transition period.”
More time needed for political and normalization efforts
Before the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority (BTA) was founded in 2019 following a referendum, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), led by Ebrahim, asked for a transition period of six years during peace negotiations with the Manila national government.
But negotiations resulted in a three-year transitional government under Ebrahim until 2022.
The two sides agreed to allow the transitional government to take control of regional governance and run affairs until 2022, when elections were agreed to be held.
But voices were raised to extend the period until 2025. Almost all BTA parliament members unanimously supported the motion, while residents across the region held rallies supporting the delay.
Members of the current Bangsamoro regional government believe they need more time to implement political and normalization efforts for the region.
Bangsamoro is a region of nearly 5 million people who are ethnic Moros and mostly Muslims. It has five provinces and three cities, including a capital.
The MILF led the region’s struggle for autonomy since the mid-20th century, ultimately resulting in peace talks and the transitional government’s formation after a referendum on Jan. 21, 2019.