AFTER TSUNAMI: ACEH REBELS CALL FOR TALKS ON CEASEFIRE

Saturday
01:44:50
January
15 2005

AFTER TSUNAMI: ACEH REBELS CALL FOR TALKS ON CEASEFIRE

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INDONESIA - The separatist rebels of GAM (Free Aceh Movement) have asked the government for talks to draw up a ceasefire in the Indonesian province to guarantee the safety of aid workers engaged in assisting victims of the recent tsunami. The movement’s leader Malik Mahmud has said from his exile in Sweden that his men are ready to meet with the Indonesian government to “ensure the success of the ceasefire and thereby reduce the suffering of the people of Aceh”.

Indonesia’s deputy president, Yusuf Kalla, has hailed the request, explaining that his government “will make an analogous effort with the same aim”, but without saying what the next steps are to be. Today’s announcement by the guerrilla movement follows recent limits placed by the army on foreign aid workers in Aceh. In the immediate aftermath of the 26 December tsunami, foreign rescue workers has free access to the province, which has been the scene of a separatist war since 1976; however, this week Jakarta decided that all foreigners must register formally and be accompanied by a military escort when travelling outside the main cities, Banda Aceh and Meulaboh, for fear of possible rebel attacks. [LC]

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