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Feb 8, 9:25 AM EST

Philippine autonomy delay stalls disarming of Muslim rebels

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- A Philippine rebel leader says Congress' failure to pass a Muslim autonomy bill as part of a new peace pact will delay a program to disarm thousands of guerrillas in the country's south.

Mohagher Iqbal said Monday that his rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, will stick with the 2014 peace agreement it signed with the Philippine government despite the setback.

However, he said the delay in enacting the bill, which aims to establish a more powerful autonomous region for minority Muslims, has caused deep frustration among guerrillas which the rebel group is trying to ease.

Legislators ended their regular session last week without passing the bill, which stalled after some rebels became involved in a clash that killed 44 police commandos early last year.

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