02/08/2007, 00.00
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Aceh: ex-separatist leader sworn in as new governor

Irwandi Yusuf, former spokesman of the Muslim separatist Free Aceh Movement, was sworn in at a ceremony in the provincial capital in the presence of diplomats and members of the central government. His first objective is to re-launch the local economy that was devastated by the tsunami.

Aceh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – An ex-separatist leader today became the first directly elected governor of Aceh province. Irwandi Yusuf was sworn in at a ceremony in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh after winning the polls in December.

The election was the first outcome of a peace deal between the government and rebels from the Muslim separatist Free Aceh Movement (Gam).

The accord, signed in Helsinki in 2005, put an end to a civil war that had dragged on for 30 years in the province and claimed more than 15,000 lives. Around 3,000 people were present at the swearing-in ceremony, including diplomats and representatives of the government of Jakarta.

The new governor said: “Winning the election was easy. Now the hard work starts.” Yusuf, former Gam spokesman, said his first priority was to revitalize the local economy, still struggling to recover from the devastation caused by the tsunami on 26 December 2004 that killed an estimated 170,000 residents of the province.

After the disaster, the Gam rebels gave up their demands for independence in exchange for partial local autonomy.

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