Mon, 04 Sep 2000

Government warns GAM about effect of truce violation

JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian government warned on Sunday that it would suspend the newly extended humanitarian pause in Aceh if it found the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) violating the accord during the one-month probation period.

Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab told journalists here on Sunday that the government will evaluate the monitoring team's monthly report to see if GAM adheres to the ground rules of the accord.

"In a month's time we will conduct an assessment to see whether all of the requirements we demanded from GAM have been met," Alwi said.

"If within that time they have not been fulfilled we can always break the truce," Alwi warned.

Alwi charged that during the three-months of the accord's implementation GAM had committed many violations by continuing to intimidate local administration officers and even hampering the distribution of humanitarian aid to the people.

"They have admitted these mistakes and now they just have to accept our requirements. We will wait for the report from the monitoring team," he added.

On Saturday, President Abdurrahman Wahid agreed to temporarily extend the pause pending further negotiations with GAM.

A joint press statement available here on Sunday said both sides will hold further talks in the middle of September in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss requirements for formally extending the pause in the restive province.

"The requirements from both sides for phase two will be discussed in detail at a joint forum meeting scheduled for mid- September in Switzerland," the brief statement said.

The two sides signed the three-month humanitarian pause in Geneva on May 12. It officially took effect on June 2.

Prior to extending the accord, which expired on Saturday, the government said it was only willing to do so if GAM was ready to start talking about a political solution for the province.

"We should start to see what we can agree on for the status of Aceh. For Jakarta, Aceh is an integral part of Indonesia. We are open to suggestions and we are going to offer special autonomy for them," Alwi said.

He stressed that the Indonesian government will not tolerate any talk about the status of the province outside the context of a unitary state of Indonesia.

Meanwhile, GAM's commander in Aceh Besar Abu Tazurra welcomed the extension of the humanitarian pause and hoped it would pave the way for a clear political solution to the Aceh issue.

"We need to extend the pause not only in terms of the period but also in substance in an effort to reach a political resolution," Abu Tazurra said on Sunday from Banda Aceh.

But it is unclear whether GAM negotiators are willing to enter discussion on any other alternatives than a separation from Indonesia, which has been the main call to arms of the separatist group.

As talks continued, Aceh was again beset by more tragedy as two 19-year-old girls were abducted on Saturday.

Sri Astuti and Yuyun Eka Susanti, both residents of Padang Tiji in Pidie, were last seen visiting a police subprecinct in the Batee area with two of their friends before being abducted on their way home while riding a motorbike.

The two other girls who escaped the kidnapping, Marlina and Arimah, said two gunmen intercepted them about one kilometer from the police subprecinct.

Sri Astuti is a daughter of a policeman, Pidie Police chief Supt. Endang Emiqail Bagus said.

"The four girls were riding on two motorbikes when the incident took place at around 4 p.m. The last two girls managed to flee and report it to us but by the time we got there it was already too late. Sri and Yuyun were already missing," he explained.

"We plead for the abductors to return the girls soon. If they're not back by Monday, we'll deploy a massive amount of troops to search for them," Endang appealed while adding that "this was probably initiated by GAM".(dja/50/51/edt)