"On behalf of GAM combatants, I have the honor to announce that TNA (Aceh National Military) is now demobilized or disbanded," TNA chief Muzakkir Manaf said in a statement read out by GAM spokesman Sofyan Dawood in a news conference. Muzakkir was seen at the event.
"We are committed to implementing the memorandum of understanding (the peace pact) and will comply with its contents," the statement added. The announcement was made after GAM representatives met with visiting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the Aceh provincial capital of Banda Aceh, where he led a solemn ceremony to commemorate one year since the devastating tsunami.
The dissolution paves the way for GAM to transform itself into a political party that is expected to contest a direct gubernatorial election in Aceh scheduled for April. GAM said it is now preparing to enter a political era in Aceh by establishing a political party. The move also comes after the former rebels handed over all its 840 qualified firearms as required by the Aug. 15 peace accord signed by the government and GAM in Helsinki, Finland.
With the disbandment, GAM troops have now become a part of the civil community. In order to achieve long-lasting peace in Aceh, the former rebels have established the Aceh Transitional Committee (KPA) led by Muzakkir.
"The committee will facilitate former GAM combatants in entering the civilian life," said Irwandy Yusuf, a GAM representative to the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM).
The committee is tasked with keeping GAM members disciplined and under control so as to ensure the peace deal would be kept intact. Irwandy also said GAM itself would still exist and would be disbanded only after "all articles in the Helsinki peace deal have been implemented" by both sides. Tuesday's news conference was also attended by AMM members. No government or military officials were present.
During the event, GAM also demanded that the presence of the international peace monitors be extended. The AMM is scheduled to end its term in Aceh on March 15. However, the government has hinted at allowing the foreign monitors to stay until July 1.
"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," Irwandy said. AMM comprises about 240 observers from the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
After holding a meeting with GAM representatives including Bachtiar Abdullah who returned in October after living in exile in Sweden, and GAM ex-commander of Aceh Besar district Teuku Mukhsalmina, President Susilo said the men were sincere in wanting to end a conflict, which has claimed some 15,000 lives.
"I see there is sincerity to end the conflict. I talked to them briefly, one by one. We have to safeguard this process," he was quoted by AFP as saying of the newfound peace in Aceh. Peace deals have been brokered in the past, but later collapsed.
The government still has to pass legislation that incorporates the peace pact, while GAM faces the difficult task of transforming itself into a political rather than fighting entity.
In a speech marking the tsunami observance on Monday, Susilo said the disaster created a "golden opportunity" to end the 29-year conflict and suggested that the peace deal was "an example of how a new hope for peace can emerge out of the ruin of destruction."
Peace talks opened in January and were successfully wrapped up in July. The rebels ceased their demand for an independent state of Aceh, while the government promised them broad autonomy and would allow them to take part in regional elections.
Source: ThejakartapostLast Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16