07/19/2005, 00.00
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Tsunami survivors hopeful about peace deal

Aceh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Tsunami survivors and relatives of those killed in three decades of fighting yesterday welcomed news that Jakarta plans to sign a formal peace agreement with the rebels of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) next month. 

The agreement was announced on Sunday in Helsinki (Finland) and will be signed on August 15.

Although doubts linger in many minds whether the latest initiative would really bring an end to the deadly conflict, analysts said the devastation left by the December tsunami—Aceh alone suffered 130,000 dead—and the commitment of the new government  led by President Susilo Bambang Yuidhoyono boosted its chance of success.

"The rebel leadership ... saw the thousands of corpses littering the province [after the tsunami] and decided their independence demand would cause more suffering," said Hasballah Saad, a former Human Rights Minister from Aceh.

The agreement, whose details are still unknown, would require GAM rebels give up their dream of full independence and disarm in exchange for the right to set up their own political party and the pullout of Indonesian troops from the oil and gas-rich province.

"Let's just hope this is more than words this time," said Yusmida Usman, whose brother was allegedly falsely accused of being a rebel and killed by security forces.

At a refugee camp for tsunami survivors, a man named Bit said he and others would "surely be happy" if the army withdraws. "Poor people like us have been stuck in the middle for too long."

"We do not intend to launch offensive actions," said Army Chief General Endriartono Sutarto. "Let's see whether GAM does the same."

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See also
Aceh gives a hero’s welcome to former ‘Enemy Number 1’ Hasan Tiro
Jakarta declares an amnesty for 2,000 rebels of Aceh
President Susilo orders an end to army offensive against Aceh rebels
Indonesia wraps up 2nd phase of Aceh troop pullout
Indonesian troops start withdrawing from Aceh province


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