The Government further embraced Muslim rebel leader Nur Misuari yesterday, naming him chairman of a council that will oversee development projects in the southern Philippines. Mr Misuari is chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front which started a secessionist war which claimed more than 120,000 lives over the past 24 years. He signed a peace agreement last month in which the Front pledged to co-operate with the Government on the economic development of Mindanao, the country's southern island group. A week later he ran unopposed for governor of the four-province Muslim Autonomous Region. Yesterday, President Ramos named Mr Misuari chairman of the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development. Though the council was considered officially in existence last Sunday, Mr Ramos apparently put off naming Mr Misuari until yesterday's Cabinet meeting held in the province of Palawan. Palawan is one of the 14 provinces covered by the council. The naming of Mr Misuari as council chairman is bound to lead to a new round of protests in Mindanao, where many Christian politicians are leading opposition to the terms agreed upon in the peace pact. The politicians, such as Representatives Maria Clara Lobregat and Daisy Avance-Fuentes, believe the Government has ceded too much power to Mr Misuari. Ms Lobregat and Ms Avance-Fuentes are among those who, two weeks ago, filed a petition before the Supreme Court questioning the legality of the council and the peace agreement.