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Philippines: Muslim Leader Wins Regional Election - 2001-12-04

In the Philippines, a former ally of the renegade governor of the Autonomous Muslim Region in the south has been declared the winner of last week's regional elections. The region's new governor, Parouk Hussin, was sworn into office Tuesday in Manila.

The new governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, Parouk Hussin, took office Tuesday, pledging he would try to heal the wounds in the region.

Mr. Hussin was declared the winner of last week's elections in the region. The candidate of the Lakas Party of Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, Mr. Hussin received more than twice the votes of his nearest competitor. But results show only one-third of the eligible voters cast ballots.

The polling was largely peaceful, but it was held under tight security. It was marred by two revolts. The first occurred before the election, on Jolo island, and resulted in the deaths of more than one hundred people. The second occurred last week on neighboring Zamboanga island, with fighting that killed at least 27 people.

The revolts were staged by supporters of outgoing Governor Nur Misuari, who rejected the election. Mr. Misuari has been charged with rebellion. He was arrested last week in Malaysia and faces deportation.

The Philippine military in the south continues to pursue remnants of the Misuari supporters, and says about one dozen rebels have been killed in the past week.

Mr. Misuari led the Moro National Liberation Front, which for more than two decades fought for an independent state in the southern Philippines. He signed a peace agreement five years ago that created the autonomous Muslim region and made him its first governor.

However, Mr. Misuari was ousted as chairman of the Front last April and Mr. Hussin was chosen as its candidate for governor. Governor Hussin Tuesday said he wants to heal the wounds within the Front and will try to persuade the Misuari group to end its revolt.