GAM Vows To Take Part In 2009 Polls

Free Aceh Movement (GAM) leaders confirmed Thursday they were working toward establishing political party to contest the 2009 general election.Former rebel movement leaders, speaking to reporters after an evening meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla, a

GAM Vows To Take Part In 2009 Polls

Free Aceh Movement (GAM) leaders confirmed Thursday they were working toward establishing political party to contest the 2009 general election.Former rebel movement leaders, speaking to reporters after an evening meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla, also said they would field independent candidates in local mayoral and regental elections in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, scheduled to be held this year.

They also promised to return to Aceh as Indonesian citizens after more than 30 years in exile during their fight for independence for the resource-rich province. Self-styled GAM prime minister Malik Mahmood, foreign minister Zaini Abdullah and other movement leaders Sofyan Dawood and Tengku Kamaruzzaman met Kalla at his official residence in Central Jakarta.

Also present in the two-hour meeting that began at around 8 p.m. were chief security minister Widodo Adi Sucipto, Communications and Information Minister Sofyan A. Djalil and Justice and Human Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin, as well as Aceh Monitoring Mission chief Pieter Feith. Zaini, asked if the GAM would be dissolved after it signed a truce with the government last August, said: "Of course. In stages, the process will lead to that". He also said the organization would become a political party to contest the 2009 legislative and presidential elections.

Kalla confirmed the group would be disbanded, "because all of this has been agreed upon in the memorandum of understanding (the truce). The GAM will no longer become a principal problem." The Acehnese said they were pleased by Kalla's assurance that the bill on Aceh's governance, currently being deliberated in the House of Representatives, would allow independent candidates to contest local elections in the province.

"The Vice President has given his assurance that clauses on independent candidates in the bill would be passed," Zaini said of the bill, which also is necessary for the establishment of the political party. The GAM leaders said they saw for themselves security was improving in Aceh following the implementation of the Helsinki peace accord. "Yesterday I was in Aceh and saw security was improving. People there already have normal lives," Malik Mahmood said. "I am happy to be able to return to Jakarta. For almost 40 years, I had not stepped foot in Jakarta."

Malik, asked when the GAM leaders would permanently live in Aceh as Indonesian citizens, said: "Soon. But it takes time because we have to settle our affairs abroad first... I will go more often to Aceh until I gradually become an Aceh resident." Efforts to resolve the separatist conflict intensified after the Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami devastated Aceh, killing at least 130,000 people in the province and leaving a half million others homeless.

Since the peace pact's signing, the GAM has surrendered all of its self-declared 840 weapons and the government has pulled more than half of its 50,000 troops from Aceh. Despite a March target date, the House of Representatives has not yet passed the Aceh governance bill that would allow former rebels to create a political party, as well as grant the oil-and-gas rich province self government. Kalla told the European Union's visiting foreign policy chief Javier Solana last Sunday that the legislation would likely be passed next month, and elections held in early August.

The Jakarta Post

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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