Indonesia halts Aceh offensive

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered the armed forces to halt offensives against separatist rebels in Aceh province to honour a new peace deal.

    The army has been battling separatists in Aceh for decades

    "The president has asked Armed Forces Chief General Endriartono Sutarto not to launch any more offensive against the separatists for the sake of the peace deal," Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi was quoted saying in the Jakarta Post on Thursday.

    Silalahi, speaking after a cabinet meeting late on Wednesday, said the president made it clear the military must switch to a defensive posture in the restive province, including in anticipation of any attack by Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels.

    Negotiators from the government and GAM on Sunday reached agreement on a draft peace pact that is scheduled to be signed in Helsinki on 15 August, ending close to 30 years of bloody separatist conflict in Aceh that has claimed some 15,000 lives.

    Rebel claim

    Susilo's reported statement came after a GAM spokesman accused the military in Aceh of stepping up anti-rebel operations after the peace deal was struck.

    "The president has asked Armed Forces Chief General Endriartono Sutarto not to launch any more offensive against the separatists for the sake of the peace deal"

    Sudi Silalahi,
    cabinet secretary



    At least 11 people have been killed in attacks in Aceh since Sunday, rebels said.

    Details of the draft peace pact are sketchy and Indonesia's top peace negotiator, Communications and Information Minister Sofyan Djalil, has said the finer points of the deal would be unveiled only once it was signed.

    GAM launched its separatist campaign in 1976, saying it was prompted by injustice and the siphoning of Aceh's natural resources by the central government.

    SOURCE: AFP


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