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Indonesia and rebels agree formula for Aceh peace JAKARTA - Indonesia and Aceh rebels have agreed the formula for a peace deal to end a 30-year-old conflict that has cost 12,000 lives in the province that was laid waste by last December’s tsunami, Indonesia said on Sunday.

A last-minute compromise overcoming Jakarta’s resistance to the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) becoming a political party meant a draft agreement can be finalised for a formal truce signature before Indonesia’s independence day celebrations on Aug. 17. “It is a historic moment, we finally reach a peaceful settlement that has been longed for so many years by the people of Aceh and by the people of Indonesia,” Indonesian Information Minister Sofyan Djalil told Reuters before the last day’s talks in Helsinki, where Finland has been mediating.

“Society can live peacefully and we can rebuild Aceh after it has been destroyed by the tsunami,” he said. The wave that left 170,000 Indonesians dead or missing prompted both sides to return to negotiations that had collapsed in 2003. Their chances of success were boosted earlier this year when GAM dropped its historic demand for independence. The devoutly Muslim province of 4 million people on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra has a long history of revolt against both Jakarta and Dutch colonial rule.

It has rich deposits of natural gas, but exploiting them, and getting humanitarian aid to people hit by the tsunami, has been hampered by continuing violence. GAM said one of its fighters was killed by soldiers on Friday while seeking medical help. The European Union is to help keep the peace in Aceh, which will involve GAM guerrillas in the jungle laying down their arms and getting an amnesty and Indonesian troops withdrawing.

It may also mean the return to Aceh of the political leaders of GAM from three decades of exile in Stockholm with the ageing Prince Hasan di Tiro whom they consider their head of state. “We are very pleased that the administration in Jakarta has agreed to a proposal put by GAM which can open the way for a sustainable political solution to the conflict in Aceh,” said Damien Kingsbury, an Australian academic who is advising GAM.

He put the deal in the broader context of “the continuing process of reform in Indonesia”. Details of the compromise deal on GAM’s political future had not yet emerged, but Djalil called it a “middle way”. GAM wanted to form its own party while Jakarta resisted changes to election laws requiring all local parties to have a national presence.


Link to related event Related event:
The Aceh conflict


Posted in Aceh conflict @ 17 July 2005 14:56 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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