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Jakarta talks tough on Aceh JAKARTA - Indonesia has threatened to resume full combat operations in restive Aceh province as fresh clashes between troops and rebels killed four people, putting yet more strain on a shaky peace pact. The security minister said the military chief would present a battle plan to the president next week -- in case it should be needed -- after what he said was a snub from the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) to talk about the December 9 peace agreement.
"We are seeking a way out so that this so-called widescale military operation will not happen. But if peace efforts...fail, the military solution is inevitable," minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters on Thursday. The warning to GAM follows the withdrawal to Aceh's capital of 100 peace monitors following attacks on their posts across the region on the northern tip of Sumatra island earlier this week.
The two sides have traded accusations over who is to blame for the renewed clashes, threats against the monitors and the heightened suspicion about each other's political motives. Eddy Fernandy, a military spokesman in Aceh, said there were at least four clashes between soldiers and rebels on Thursday which left two troops and two GAM fighters dead. He gave no further details.
Yudhoyono showed reporters a letter from the Geneva-based Henry Dunant Centre, which brokered the agreement, that said the rebels had refused to attend a meeting proposed by the government to try to sort out the problems with the agreement. He said President Megawati Sukarnoputri would review the military operational plan and decide what to do next.
A GAM representative exiled in Stockholm said the rebel side was committee to the December 9 agreement. "Everything is getting worse now, there is violence and killings," Zaini Abdullah, a key negotiator in the previous peace talks, told Reuters on Thursday. "We don't know exactly what we have to do."

Violence

Abdullah said the recent violence in the region was due to Jakarta attempting to sabotage the peace process. "We are already committed to what we agreed after the signing of the peace agreement on December 9," he said. "I don't think they (the Indonesian side) are sincere about it." GAM representatives in Stockholm had met mediators from the Henri Dunant Centre two days ago and they had been invited to continue talks in Geneva on April 16-17, Abdullah said.
"That is maybe a little bit too early for us, because we have to prepare. But maybe we can go (to Geneva) a week later," he said. At least 10,000 people were killed in more than two decades of fighting leading up to the pact, which until recently had dramatically reduced the level of violence in the resource-rich province 1,700 km (1,060 miles) northwest of Jakarta. The government and the military have become especially incensed at what they say is GAM's campaign to use the peace process to drum up support for independence.
The issue of autonomy versus independence for Aceh is one some analysts say was not addressed properly in the peace agreement. This left GAM room for manoeuvre on the issue despite foreign support for the view that Aceh is part of Indonesia. Some analysts have accused the military of trying to sideline the peace monitors and said protests against them appeared to have been carried out by pro-government people.
Acehnese themselves are traumatised by past Indonesian military operations. But one diplomat, U.S. ambassador to Indonesia Ralph Boyce, expressed optimism on Thursday that the pact would survive. "I think we have a great deal of confidence in the Indonesian people to work through this very difficult process," Boyce told Reuters in a telephone interview. He said the withdrawal of the monitors was a concern.



Posted in Aceh conflict @ 13 April 2003 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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