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Govt to withdraw last troops from Aceh on 29th December JAKARTA - Indonesia will pull out the last of its special forces from Aceh on Dec. 29 after rebels surrendered their last weapons this week, marking an end to a conflict that has claimed 15,000 lives in the tsunami-devastated province. The fourth and last phase of relocation started on Dec. 20 with 1,621 "non-organic'' military troops withdrawing from Lhokseumawe port, northeast of the provincial capital Banda Aceh, said the Aceh Monitoring Mission, which monitors the implementation of the peace agreement between the government and the Free Aceh Movement rebel group.

The peace accord calls for the separatists, also known as GAM, to lay down their arms by Dec. 31, followed in April by Aceh's first local election. According to the agreement, the government will reduce the number of troops in Aceh by about two-thirds to 14,700 by the end of the year, while the number of police will be cut to 9,100, in return for GAM laying down their weapons by Dec. 31.

The government and leaders of GAM signed the peace agreement in Helsinki on Aug. 15 in their third attempt in four years to end a conflict that that started in 1976 amid resentment over the province's share of oil and gas revenue. Attempts at peace resumed earlier this year following the December 2004 tsunami that left more than 165,000 people dead or missing in Aceh.

The total number of military personnel to be withdrawn in the final phase will be 6,811 and the number of police to be pulled out will be 2,150, the monitoring group said in an e- mailed statement today.

Aceh had 9.66 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in 2003, or about 5.5 percent of Indonesia's total, according to BPMigas, the state oil and gas regulator. Aceh, which accounts for about 2 percent of Southeast Asia's biggest economy, also has strategic importance as the gateway to the Strait of Malacca, a busy sea lane through which about 40 percent of global trade passes.


Link to related event Related event:
The Aceh conflict

Related blog entries (category 'Aceh conflict') Related blog entries (category 'Aceh conflict'):
19 December 2005 · Former Aceh rebels complete weapons handover
14 November 2005 · Weapons handover continues in Aceh
02 November 2005 · Exiled GAM leader returns to Aceh
23 October 2005 · 2,500 more troops to be pulled out soon
18 October 2005 · Second round of troop withdrawal from Aceh begins


Posted in Aceh conflict @ 24 December 2005 10:00 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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