Philippines: Duterte proposed deal to end Marawi siege, then backed out, says cleric – 6 Jul 2017

  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was preparing to make a deal with Islamic State-inspired militants in the days after they laid siege to Marawi, but aborted the plan without explanation, an intermediary involved in the process said.
  • Mr Agakhan Sharief, a prominent Muslim leader, told Reuters, he was approached by a senior Duterte aide to use his connections with the Maute militant group’s leaders to start back-channel talks.
  • Two other Marawi sources familiar with the matter confirmed the president had worked behind the scenes to hold talks with the Maute brothers, Omarkhayam and Abdullah.
  • However, the process was halted when Duterte in a 31 May 17 speech declared he “will not talk to terrorists”, after another televised speech in which he told the militants “we can still solve this through dialogue”, but if he could not convince them of that, “so be it. Let’s just fight”.
  • Despite his tough rhetoric and frequent promises to wipe out militants, Duterte has a reputation as a peace-broker, having dealt with separatist and Marxist rebellions during his 22 years as mayor of Davao City in Mindanao.
  • Marawi Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra confirmed that back-channel talks did start but said he was not privy to details. He told Reuters the process failed because the rebels did not show good faith or reduce the intensity of attacks on government forces after Duterte offered them an olive branch.

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