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Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte during a news conference at a hotel in Davao City, in southern Philippines, on May 26, 2016

Incoming Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has met with two Islamist rebel groups in what is seen as a historic move in the country’s efforts towards resolving its Islamist insurgency.

Muslim rebels pledged their support for Duterte’s proposed shift to a federal government in the hopes it would redistribute wealth and be a step toward ending the troubles on Mindanao — the second largest island in the Philippines and the center of the 40-year separatist conflict — according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. They also agreed to open a dialogue among Muslims on the island.

Duterte, who will assume office on June 30, is believed to hold sway with rebel leaders given his decades-long tenure as mayor of the island’s most populous city Davao.

Analysts speculate that he could make considerable strides in tackling the long-standing insurgency that has recently been making world headlines through an ongoing hostage crisis.


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