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Indonesia says will lift Aceh's emergency status BANDA ACEH - A civilian emergency law imposed on Indonesia's Aceh last year to deal with a simmering rebellion will be lifted this month, the head of the tsunami-hit province's reconstruction agency said on Sunday. The move could signal Indonesia's willingness to intensify efforts to strike a peace deal with rebels of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) when a fourth round of peace talks is held in Helsinki from May 26-31.

"It will not be extended," Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, chairman of the powerful agency, told Reuters in the first disclosure of the government's intention to lift the emergency status. Kuntoro, a respected former energy minister, made no further comments on the law nor give a precise date for when it would be removed. It was introduced a year ago and extended for six months last November. It followed one year of martial law.

Under emergency law, the civilian authority has governed Aceh and can enforce security measures such as curfews and house searches. But military personnel were not withdrawn when it first took effect and clashes with rebels have been routine. Underscoring Aceh's fragile security, an Indonesian soldier and three GAM rebels were killed during a clash on Friday in a village in northern Aceh, the military said on Sunday.

Both Indonesia and the rebels were forced back to the negotiating table after a giant tsunami slammed into Aceh on Dec. 26, leaving around 160,000 Acehnese dead or missing. Thorny security and political issues are expected to be discussed at the fourth round of talks this month. The three-decade long separatist struggle in Aceh has claimed more than 12,000 lives, many of them civilians. Kuntoro was recently appointed to head the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Body for the Areas of Aceh Province and Nias Island, North Sumatra. His agency will manage nearly $5 billion.



Posted in Aceh conflict @ 08 May 2005 00:03 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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