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Aceh rebels, Indonesia agree to meeting JAKARTA - Separatist leaders in Indonesia's restive Aceh province have agreed to attend an emergency meeting in Switzerland aimed at salvaging the fragile peace accord signed with the government, rebel sources said Tuesday. "What I heard is that there has been an agreement (for) the Joint Council meeting ... in Geneva on April 23-24," said Sofyan Ibrahim Tiba, a representative of the Free Aceh Movement, known locally by its initials GAM.
Last week, the government gave the rebels until Tuesday to decide upon their attendance at the "crucial" meeting in order to save the four-month-old peace deal. After proposing Jakarta as the venue for the talks, the government suggested holding the discussions in one of three neighboring countries Malaysia, Brunei or Thailand. GAM opposed the offer, arguing Geneva was the "most neutral place," and also the headquarters of the peace facilitator, the Henry Dunant Center.
"Various issues, in particular the stalled peace pact ... as well as alleged violation of the accord, will be discussed," Tiba told United Press International in a telephone interview from Aceh's capital, Banda Aceh, 1,200 miles northwest of Jakarta. Indonesian government and military officials have repeatedly accused GAM of violating the four-month-old peace deal, threatening the rebels with military action should the truce collapse. Aceh military commander Brig. Gen. Jali Yusuf reiterated government claims that the rebels were campaigning for independence in violation of the peace agreement. He warned that the military was ready to launch military operations should the planned meeting fail to iron out positive results.
"A military operation in Aceh would only take six or seven months," he said. GAM, in turn, accused the government of setting up more military posts across the province and of continuing their sweeps against the rebels. HDC's Aceh office chief David Gorman said retired U.S. Gen. Anthony Zinni, also a peace envoy to the Middle East, will attend the Geneva meeting. Zinni also helped broker the previous Aceh peace pact. The Dec. 9, 2002, deal was aimed at ending the 26-year-old insurgency that has killed at least 12,000 people in the oil- and gas-rich province.
In the past month, however, shootings and other cases of violence have been on the rise and the government has threatened to resume military operations. More than 20 rebels and civilians were killed in Aceh this month, including children aged 10 and 6 who were caught in the crossfire. In contrast, fewer than 50 people died during the first three months of the pact. The HDC withdrew its 50 international monitors from Banda Aceh after pro-Jakarta protestors stormed and burned down its offices in two different district towns in the province.



Posted in Aceh conflict @ 15 April 2003 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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