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Indonesia eyes path for ex-Aceh rebels to form political party BANDA ACEH - Indonesia will soon set the ball rolling to allow former rebels in Aceh to establish a political party and join the mainstream in the once volatile province, a top peace monitor said on Saturday. Aceh will hold landmark elections on December 11, the first ever direct vote for top executive posts in the province and seen as a key step toward consolidating a peace deal struck in August 2005.

So far it has succeeded in ending the fighting that killed 15,000 people after the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) launched a struggle for an independent state on Sumatra island's northern tip in 1976. "The government is (ready) to continue dialogue with the GAM leadership," Pieter Feith, head of the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM), told a new conference after a final meeting of a commission on security arrangements.

"There is an understanding that the GAM will start transitioning into a political party." The veteran Dutch peace monitor added that "before the end of this year, the government will have enacted a regulation on the establishment of local political parties." He said he believed that after the process was launched GAM was likely to be dissolved by the middle of 2007.

GAM and the Indonesian government signed the 2005 truce under Finnish mediation. The agreement paved the way for the former separatists' involvement in local Aceh politics after they agreed to end their armed rebellion. Malik Mahmud, the former "prime minister" in exile of the rebel group, told the news conference there were plans to dissolve GAM, but did not give a timetable. "The GAM will form a team to prepare for forming a political party," he said, adding there were still some shortcomings to be resolved.

He stressed the need for all sides to respect the upcoming election and to maintain peace. International and local observers have said the possibility of violence is low, but the election commission had asked monitoring groups to send more people as it wanted around 10,000 monitors across the rugged province of 4 million people. GAM is endorsing no candidate in the polls, in which 2.6 million voters will choose the province's governor and deputy as well as 19 regents and mayors.

However, several GAM members are running in the December races as independent candidates. The International Crisis Group said in a recent report that differences over candidates have split GAM's leadership, raising questions about the movement's political future. The Helsinki agreement came about after months of negotiations, partially spurred by the December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that left around 170,000 Acehnese dead or missing.


Related blog entries (category 'Elections') Related blog entries (category 'Elections'):
25 November 2006 · Landmark election campaign begins in Aceh
08 November 2006 · Minister to inspect preparations for Aceh regional chief elections
06 November 2006 · General, rebel among candidates in Aceh
22 August 2006 · Indonesia to hold Aceh elections December 11


Posted in Elections @ 03 December 2006 03:13 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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