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AMM still 'crucial' for peace

Jakarta Post - January 16, 2006

Tony Hotland, Jakarta – Extending the term for the international Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) would be a good way to help Indonesian authorities and former separatists establish a long-lasting commitment to peace, legislators and a senior Acehnese politician said.

But the government still needs to explain the reasons behind the extension to the House of Representatives.

Acehnese scholar Hasballah M. Saad said the presence of the AMM remained crucial, particularly with the expected delay of regional elections in the resource-rich province.

"The AMM remains crucial to monitor the drawing up of Acehnese law, the regional election and the reintegration process of former insurgents into society. These issues are as essential as the decommissioning process we have just completed," Hasballah said.

Isolated conflicts could still occur during the transitional period and the AMM would continue to be a key mediator, he said.

"Conflict might arise during the drawing up of the new law on Aceh, or surround issues about the political participation of local parties," he said. Jakarta is planning to extend the stay of the international peace monitors by three months until the end of June.

A new law replacing the current Aceh special autonomy law is currently being drawn up and direct regional elections are scheduled to take place in May.

Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) legislator Nasir Djamil said the presence of the AMM was vital if there was to be peace for all in the region. He believed the team should stay until after local elections in the province ended.

Ahmad Farhan Hamid an Acehnese member of the National Mandate Party (PAN) said AMM members should now include experts in Indonesian politics and law. "Their number should be cut back gradually. This is to ensure there is no shock (to the system)," he said.

At its creation, the AMM had a total of 210 members representing European Union and Southeast Asian countries. About 50 of them left the province after the Free Aceh Movement gave up its arms last month.