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Philippines wants assistance to handle renegade governor

Saturday, November 24, 2001

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines -- The Philippines' president said she asked Indonesia and Malaysia for help dealing with a renegade Muslim governor Friday amid reports that he may try to flee the country.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo did not say what kind of help she requested but she acknowledged difficulty trying to arrest and extradite Gov. Nur Misuari if he manages to escape the Philippines.

Forces loyal to Misuari, a former rebel leader and current governor of the southern Muslim region in the Philippines, attacked an army base Monday, killing four soldiers and seven civilians. About 100 rebels have been killed in fighting since then, the military said.

Misuari abandoned a 1996 peace deal this week and the government accused him of trying to upset the Nov. 26 regional elections meant to choose his successor.

Arroyo said she spoke to Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri Friday morning and: "She said, and I quote, 'Gloria, whatever you need, you let me know. If you need anything, just call.' So it's really all-out support."

"I have already sent word to (Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad) through one of my officials who is quite close to one of his officials."

Among the subjects being discussed, she said, is how to arrest Misuari if he escapes. She noted that the Philippines has no extradition treaty with those countries but said "there are many options."

Indonesia and Malaysia are both Muslim neighbors of the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines. Both countries have helped mediate the Philippines' problems in the past with Muslim insurgents.

The Department of Foreign Affairs also canceled Misuari's passport.


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