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Megawati to stay night in restive Aceh BANDA ACEH - Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri will visit Aceh province on Tuesday, a week after the signing of a landmark peace accord with separatist rebels, a minister said on Thursday. Indonesia and separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels signed the accord, aimed at ending over two decades of violence in which thousands have died in the staunchly Muslim province on the northern tip of Sumatra island.
"The president will go to Aceh on the 17th and 18th and may stay for a night and intends to see the situation there," Interior Affairs Minister Hari Sabarno told reporters. Government officials visiting Aceh have sometimes spent their nights in Medan in the next-door province rather than in violence-prone Aceh, where before the peace treaty people feared going out at night.
During Megawati's last visit to Aceh in September, she was in and out the same day, inaugurating a local airline and not leaving the airport compound where she made a short televised speech. Sabarno said Megawati intended to go to the eastern province of Papua -- a second separatist hotspot -- to celebrate Christmas. "Going to Aceh is connected to the (Muslim) Eid al-Fitr festivities. For Christmas, there's a plan to go to Papua," he said.
Indonesia has offered both provinces special autonomy packages but pro-independence passions in the two corners of the world's largest archipelago are still strong.



Posted in Aceh conflict @ 14 December 2002 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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