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Vows for continued peace as AMM leaves Aceh

Jakarta Post - December 16, 2006

Nani Afrida and Tony Hotland, Banda Aceh/Jakarta – The Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) on Friday officially ended its 15-month mandate to supervise the implementation of the peace agreement in the province.

Both the central government and former rebel leaders vowed to preserve the peace after the departure of the international monitors, saying any future disputes would be handled through dialog.

Former GAM spokesman Irwandi Yusuf, who is set to become Aceh's next governor after landmark elections Monday, said peace would be preserved even without the presence of the AMM, which consisted of monitors from the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

"We no longer need a mediator since the government and GAM have been able to work out their disputes with dialog," he said.

Former Free Aceh Movement (GAM) leader Malik Mahmood said some issues remained unresolved, including what he viewed as problematic articles in the new law on Aceh governance, but he believed these could be worked out through talks.

"I am certain the current administration (in Jakarta) has and will continue to keep the peace in Aceh," he said.

The head of the Iskandar Muda Military Command overseeing Aceh, Maj. Gen. Supiadin, suggested the creation of a forum comprising key elements in the tsunami-ravaged province to carry on the peace process.

Justice and Human Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin, who represented the government in the five rounds of peace talks last year in Helsinki, expressed satisfaction with AMM's work in overseeing the implementation of the peace deal. He said the monitors had been impartial and objective in their work.

AMM head Pieter Feith said the international community would remain attentive to the progress in Aceh, including several unresolved issues.

These include the reintegration of former GAM combatants into society and the resolution of human rights abuses during the more than three decades of fighting that left some 15,000 people dead and forced many more to flee their homes.

"There will be a non-governmental organization led by the mediator of the Helsinki peace talks, Martti Ahtisaari, called InterPeace," Feith said.

InterPeace, he said, will be smaller in structure than the AMM, but will do similar work in monitoring the peace process. It will be supported by a number of European states as well as the United States, Canada and Japan.

Feith has said he trusts the verbal commitment of the Indonesian government to resolve past rights abuses, which will include creating a human rights tribunal and a truth and reconciliation commission for Aceh.

In Jakarta, AMM delegates bid farewell to Vice President Jusuf Kalla at his residence on Friday evening. The delegates are slated to meet with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Saturday afternoon. With the successful completion of the elections in the province and the passage of the law on Aceh governance, Kalla said all the problems in Aceh were now Indonesia's alone.

He added that GAM should now disband following the elections, in which Irwandi and running mate Muhammad Nazar reportedly used some GAM symbols for their campaign.

"All points in the peace deal are working out now, so there's no need for GAM to remain. What's important is to ensure security and confidence," Kalla said.