MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE 1:00PM) Sulu sultan Jamalul Kiram III has called for a unilateral ceasefire in Lahad Datu, Sabah, following the deaths of several of his followers in a Malaysian military assault.
Even as Kiram called on forces loyal to him to stand down, he expressed hope Malaysia would also declare a ceasefire to prevent the further loss of lives.
The Sulu sultanate has so far counted 10 of its people dead and four injured from the assault by a combined Malaysian police-military force on Tuesday and Wednesday, with 10 others being held by the Malaysian security forces, said spokesman Abraham Idjirani.
Idjirani said despite the Sultan’s unilateral ceasefire declaration issued Thursday, their fighters will continue to maintain a defensive stance, and urged Malaysia to declare a ceasefire.The ceasefire was declared to prevent further bloodshed in Lahad Datu.The declaration came as Malaysia launched another assault in the area on Thursday morning.Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III also welcomed the pronouncement of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling for an end to the violence and a dialogue on Sabah.
Malaysia to move for sultan's extradition
As this developed, however, the official Malaysian news agency Bernama reported that despite the absence of an extradition treaty, Malaysia might ask the Philippines to extradite Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III to face charges of having “incited anger and hatred."
The news agency quoted Foreign Minister Anifah Aman as saying on a television show that Kiram " has made statements that have incited anger and hatred. Does the Philippines have laws to bring him to justice?”
"If not, maybe we will ask the Philippines to hand him over to us," Anifah added.
He said the extradition proposal has been “put forward” to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.
Acknowledging the absence of an extradition pact between the two countries, Anifah said: "In the spirit of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), we can request for them to be brought here.
Nevertheless, the Malaysian minister said the two countries would seek the best legal means to deal with the crisis that has erupted after followers of Kiram went to Sabah to press their ancestral claim to the territory also known as North Borneo.
Asked whether the intruders caught would be charged in Malaysia or sent home, Anifah said: "This is subject to discussion. The president (of the Philippines) asked them to surrender and return home and the Philippine government pledged to take action in accordance with its laws. - InterAksyon