Former Aceh rebels disband military wing
Updated: 2005-12-27 14:31
Former separatist rebels in Indonesia's Aceh province have announced the
dissolution of their armed wing, in another step towards implementing a historic
The Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) signed the pact in
August in Helsinki after both sides dropped key demands in the wake of last
December's tsunami, which killed some 168,000 Acehnese.
"On behalf of GAM combatants I have the honour to announce that TNA (Aceh
National Armed Forces) has been decommissioned and demobilised," GAM spokesman
Sofyan Daud told a press conference.
"We are committed to implement the memorandum of understanding (MOU, the
peace pact) and will abide by its contents," he said, reading out a statement
signed by TNA chief Muzakkir Manaf.
The former rebels surrendered their final batch of weapons last week to meet
the terms of the peace deal, while non-local Indonesian troops and police are
expected to pull the last of their personnel out of Aceh on Thursday.
The pact, which has been overseen by a foreign monitoring mission, has so far
progressed smoothly, exceeding many analysts' expectations.
But GAM representative to the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) Irwandi Yusuf
told reporters he wanted the monitors to stay on beyond their mandated stay,
which is supposed to end in March.
"We would like AMM to extend their mission to monitor all of the stages of
the MOU. We are entering a political process which is tricky and difficult," he
The Indonesian government must still pass legislation that incorporates the
peace pact while GAM faces the difficult task of transforming itself into a
political rather than fighting entity.
AMM comprises about 240 observers from the European Union and the Association
of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
GAM held the press briefing shortly after several of their top members met
with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who said the men were
sincere in wanting to end a conflict which has claimed some 15,000 lives.
The president met with GAM spokesman Bachtiar Abdullah, who returned in
October after living in exile in Sweden, as well as GAM ex-commander of Aceh
Besar district, Teuku Mukhsalmina, and Yusuf.
"I see there is sincerity to end the conflict. I talked to them briefly, one
by one. We have to safeguard this process," he said of the newfound peace in
Aceh. Peace deals have been brokered in the past but later collapsed.
Yusuf meanwhile also dismissed reports that thousands of Indonesian troops
were poised to be sent to Aceh to help rebuilding efforts in the tsunami-hit
The military and the agency tasked with overseeing reconstruction last week
discussed the possibility of troops assisting the effort.
"That's not going to happen. I have received information that it's not on
their agenda. As long as there are still professional contractors, they should
be prioritised," he said.
Yudhoyono also dismissed the reports as "not correct" but did not rule out
some troops working there.
"If there is a need to deploy engineering units, the number would be less
than 1,000. Their presence should not disturb the peace process or disturb the
confidence-building," he said.