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EU extends peace mission in Aceh by three months

Agence France Presse - February 27, 2006

Banda Aceh – European Union peace monitors in Indonesia's Aceh province said Monday the EU has extended their mission by another three months until June 15.

"The mission has been extended by another three months, although the official announcement will be made in Brussels," said Faye Belnis from the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM).

The AMM, composed of some 200 monitors from the European Union and five Southeast Asian nations, had been due to end its mission on March 15 but the Indonesian government on Feb. 15 requested the extension.

It was formed following a peace pact between Jakarta and the separatist Free Aceh Movement in Helsinki last August, which is aimed at bringing nearly three decades of conflict to an end.

The AMM's mandate is to help ensure that the agreement, spurred along by the deadly 2004 tsunami, is implemented by both sides.

Both parties have already successfully achieved the first stage, the withdrawal of non-local Indonesian troops and police in return for the surrender of the rebels' weaponry.

The mission has also assured a smooth start for thereintegration of former rebels into Acehnese society.