A Muslim voter in Mindanao (Source: AFP)

Hanoi (VNA) - Voters of the Philippines have approved a new Muslim-led region in the south of the country, which is hoped to bring a solution to peace after decades of fighting killed thousands and mired the area in poverty.

According to the results announced by the Philippines elections commission on January 25, voters, who were expected to back the so-called Bangsamoro region, delivered a convincing result of about 1.7 million in favour and some 254,600 against.

The result will begin the process of the Catholic-majority nation's largest rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), laying down its weapons and assuming political power.

In July last year, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed a Muslim autonomy law - the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) into law, which was originally called the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), to allow minority Muslims in the south to start moving towards self-rule by 2022, a bid to tackle extremism and defuse a half-century of separatist conflict in Mindanao.

The BOL has paved the way for creating a government for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, replacing the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, enjoying more power, can have its own judicial system and parliament. However, the autonomous government cannot have its own military and police force, as these would still be under the central government.

Official statistics show that some 150,000 people have been killed since early 1970s in clashes between government troops and Muslim rebel groups. Those killed included not just combatants of both sides but also civilians.-VNA