Referendum paves way for autonomy to Muslim predominant area of southern Philippines

Manila: Muslim-dominated parts of Mindanao will get greater autonomy after the plan to create it a self-administered area was backed by 85 per cent of voters, on Friday. 1.74 million voters voted in favour of autonomy.

This has boosted hopes for peace in one of Asia’s most conflict-torn regions. This will settle decades of conflict, between separatists and successive governments which have hampered development and kept these parts of Mindanao among Asia’s poorest regions.

The new region to be called Bangsamoro (nation of Moros), has an estimated 5 million inhabitants. It will have greater powers to generate and invest more money in infrastructure, schools, healthcare and social welfare.

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As reported by Reuter, Martial law has been in place in Mindanao since an extremist alliance overran Marawi City in 2017 and occupied it for five months, in what was the Philippines’ fiercest and longest conflict since World War Two.

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