Sat, 29 Mar 2003

Govt, GAM urged to abide by peace deal

Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Henry Dunant Centre (HDC) has warned the Indonesian Military (TNI) and Free Aceh Movement (GAM) against reinforcing military strength during the demilitarization process, saying that the move would violate the peace deal signed last year.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu said earlier that the TNI would be sending more troops to the province, arguing that the move was necessary as the Iskandar Muda Military Command lacked personnel.

There have also been reports that GAM has significantly increased its arsenal despite the fact that it was to store its weapons as stipulated in the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, signed on Dec. 9, 2002.

The HDC representative in Banda Aceh, David Gorman, also urged both parties to stick to the peace agreement as "both parties had the ability to implement it".

The HDC, a Switzerland-based non-governmental organization, facilitated the peace talks between the government and GAM rebels which led to the signing of the peace agreement between the two parties in Geneva last year.

Gorman said he would seek clarification from the government on Ryamizard's statement to deploy more troops to Aceh.

"I believe they already knew that increasing military strength in Aceh for any reason is against the peace accord," Gorman told The Jakarta Post by phone on Friday.

He also said that he had warned GAM to stop provoking people to demand independence for Aceh as "we, again, have to refer to the agreement".

Meanwhile, Wiryono Sastrohandoyo, the government's chief negotiator in the peace talks, also called on both parties on Friday to respect the agreement.

"It would be deeply regrettable if the peace accord failed to be implemented, and, as the negotiator representing the government, I can do nothing except hope that both parties will honor their commitment."

Wiryono expressed concern over rampant violations by GAM rebels, who, he said, continue to extort money from the Acehnese and campaign for independence.

GAM has also demonstrated its reluctance to put down its weapons as required by the agreement, he said.

Under the peace deal, the demilitarization process started on Feb. 9, at which time TNI agreed to relocate troops to defensive positions, while GAM stored its weapons in certain places to be monitored by a tripartite monitoring team consisting of TNI personnel, GAM and foreign observers representing HDC.

Both parties, however, have yet to carry out their commitments.

Meanwhile, Gen. Ryamizard said in Lhokseumawe on Friday that GAM had recruited more than 2,000 new members, bringing the total number of GAM's armed wing to more than 5,000.

He also alleged that GAM had increased its arsenal from 1,800 weapons to 2,300.

"I have reported this violation to the TNI chief in Jakarta. I have also told soldiers to be on alert in view of this situation, but I also warned them (soldiers) to respect the government's decision in promoting a peaceful solution," Ryamizard told Antara.