07/13/2006, 00.00
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Peace monitors like Aceh autonomy law, former rebels don't

Indonesia's parliament adopts law to fulfill Helsinki peace accord requirements but fails to convince local population and former rebels. Objections include ambiguous army role and central government's excessive power.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Despite public dissatisfaction and former Aceh rebels criticism, the head of a foreign monitoring mission overseeing a peace pact between the Indonesian government and former rebels in Aceh says a law adopted by the Indonesian parliament confirming the deal is broadly in line with the 2005 peace agreement.

After an intense debate, lawmakers in Jakarta on Monday approved the law granting Aceh autonomy as part of the August 15, 2005, peace deal brokered in Helsinki between the central government and the former separatist rebels of the Free Aceh Movement or GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka), which ended 30 years of conflict.

The law however fails to live up to the population's expectations. GAM leaders view it as to pro-central government, ambiguous as far the army's role is concerned, and falling short of the Helsinki accord.

GAM representatives just announced that they would call on the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) to review the legislation; however, Pieter Feith, who heads the mission, expressed his support for the law. He explained that it was not necessary for the law to reflect every word of the peace deal since most of the principles agreed upon in Helsinki have been accommodated in it.

The law gives the central government the power to set the means and timetable to implement Aceh's autonomy. It allows the province to retain 70 per cent of revenues from its significant natural resources but contrary to local demands it gives both central and provincial government joint management authority over oil and gas. It also strengthens Sharia law by setting up Islamic tribunals.

The Acehnese wanted the new deal to include a commission of inquiry with power to try military officers responsible for thousands of deaths during the years of conflict. Instead, the new law only provides for a court empowered to judge cases occurring after the law comes into effect.

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