The Free Aceh Movement (GAM) formally announced the establishment of a new political party Tuesday and appointed two independent candidates to take part in the next direct gubernatorial elections in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.
The decision came at the end of a three-day meeting which focused on discussing the political programs of the former separatist group. However, GAM representatives would not divulge the name of the party nor the identities of the candidates. "We cannot announce our independent candidates because we are still waiting for the results of the bill deliberation," Zaini Abdullah, formerly GAM's foreign minister in exile, told the media about the ongoing deliberation of the Aceh governance bill in the House of Representatives.
Speculation about the identities of the candidates centers on Hasbi Abdullah and Muhammad Nazar of the Aceh Referendum Information Center (SIRA). The meeting was attended by about 100 GAM figures, including former top executives in exile Malik Mahmood Al Haytar and Bakhtiar Abdullah, who returned to Aceh earlier this year after many years abroad. Other foreign representatives came from the United States, Norway, Malaysia, Denmark, Canada, Australia and Sweden. They joined members from North Sumatra, Java and 17 other areas in the archipelago.
The meeting also decided the GAM would only nominate its independent candidates in the upcoming regional elections and not through a coalition with other parties. "As soon as the Aceh administration bill is approved in line with the Helsinki agreement, we will disclose the names of our candidates," said Sofyan Dawood, a spokesman of the Aceh Administration Transfer Commission. "The most important thing here is that the main points were discussed in the framework for the establishment of the local political party," Malik Mahmood said.