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Indonesia pulls troops from Aceh province LHOKSEUMAWE - Indonesia withdrew 800 soldiers from tsunami-battered Aceh province on Sunday after rebels handed over a quarter of their guns, moving quickly to fulfill key obligations under a peace deal to end three decades of fighting. The troops the first of some 30,000 security forces slated to leave the province by the year's end chanted and waved their helmets in the air as they marched aboard the warship that set sail hours later.

If the process of demobilization and disarmament goes smoothly, it would significantly raise hopes that an agreement to end the war that has claimed nearly 15,000 lives in the oil- and gas-rich region might hold. The country's powerful military accused of undermining earlier agreements reiterated that it fully supported the deal.

"The handing over of weapons by the former rebels is a new chapter that makes us all proud and helps our aim to create a peace in Aceh that the people have longed for for years," said Aceh military commander Maj. Gen. Supiadin, who goes by a single name. Soldiers loaded down with bags and automatic weapons smiled and joked as they gathered at the port in the northern city of Lhokseumawe early Sunday.

"I have been here 18 months, most of which I have spent in the jungle," said Pvt. Gatot Broto before the ship set off for the city of Medan on Sumatra island. "I am just very happy to go home." Despite the optimism, many people many remain wary because of the collapse of the earlier accords, and are closely watching to see how this deal is implemented.

Earlier this week, rebels from the Free Aceh Movement, or GAM, surrendered more than a quarter of their self-declared 840 weapons to EU and Southeast Asian peace monitors, with the remainder to be handed over by Dec. 31. Sunday's troop withdrawal marked the official beginning of the first phase in a gradual reduction of military and police units, linked to the decommissioning process, in the region. Some troops left the province earlier this month as a goodwill gesture.


Link to related event Related event:
The Aceh conflict

Related blog entries (category 'Aceh conflict') Related blog entries (category 'Aceh conflict'):
16 September 2005 · Aceh rebels begin surrendering weapons
23 August 2005 · Indonesia starts Aceh withdrawal
15 August 2005 · Indonesia, Aceh rebels sign truce
04 August 2005 · EU, Asian officials in Indonesia's Aceh
18 July 2005 · Peace deal raises doubts, hopes in Aceh


Posted in Aceh conflict @ 19 September 2005 08:12 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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