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Monday, August 15, 2005

Indonesian Government, Aceh Rebels Sign Peace Deal

VOA News:

The Indonesian government and rebels from the Free Aceh Movement signed a historic peace deal in the Finnish capital Helsinki Monday to officially end a nearly three-decade old conflict. Attention will turn now to how the deal is implemented. Both the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement, or GAM, say they are optimistic this peace agreement will hold. But during the signing ceremony, the self-styled GAM prime minister in exile and chief negotiator, Malik Mahmud, expressed some concerns. Mr. Malik says GAM cannot rely on the government to disarm militias allegedly funded by the military, because it denies their existence. 'The Free Aceh Movement expresses its deep concern over the continuing presence of TNI proxy militias in Aceh, despite the signing of the Aceh peace agreement,' he said. 'The government has since denied that any militias exist in Aceh, hence the logic follows, there is no need for their disarmament.' Earlier truces between the two warring factions ended in renewed conflict. But the December tsunami that ravaged Indonesia's Aceh province also brought the two sides back to the negotiating table.
Obviously a lot still needs to be done before we can call this a permantent peace, but it is a very good sign. I don't know enough about the history of this conflict to opine about who is more at fault historically or how just any of the demands of either side are. I also don't know how much that matters.


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