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Indonesia vows to rebuild Aceh JAKARTA - The Indonesian government on Wednesday promised to rebuild the violence-wracked Aceh province to help ensure a recent peace deal between Jakarta and separatist rebels in the region does not unravel. Since last week's accord, international aid organizations and the United Nations have visited the province to assess its reconstruction needs.
While poverty rates in oil and gas-rich Aceh are lower than elsewhere in Indonesia, thousands of schools and other public facilities have been damaged in the decades-long conflict. "The government has taken on full responsibility for rehabilitation projects in Aceh," said top security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is accompanying President Megawati Sukarnoputri on a two-day trip to Aceh. He gave no more details.
Many Acehnese were skeptical that the government would stick to its word to rebuild the province, or would be able to distribute aid money without it being stolen by corrupt officials. "I have no hopes left in Megawati," said Marwan Hasan, a 32-year-old farmer. "We have been disappointed so often." Despite claims by both sides of violations, observers say the peace deal remains the best hope of ending the 26-year-old conflict in the region, about 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) northwest of Jakarta. At least 12,000 people have been killed over the past decade in the province.
On Tuesday, Megawati attended a prayer gathering at provincial capital Banda Aceh's main mosque, after which she gave a speech. During her address, a pro-referendum activist briefly held up a banner reading "Give us a chance to choose our own fate" before being detained by security officers. He was later released. On Wednesday, Megawati, whose staunchly nationalistic father was Indonesia's first president, met with government officials, but said nothing more in public.
International peace monitors affiliated with the Henry Dunant Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, which brokered the deal, have arrived in Aceh and are scheduled to hold their first meeting by Friday.



Posted in Aceh conflict @ 19 December 2002 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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