Fri, 14 Mar 2003

Govt, HDC hold meeting to fix peace deal violations

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government and the Henry Dunant Centre (HDC) began a two-day meeting on Thursday to hammer out what constitutes a violation of the demilitarization process in Aceh, more than three months after Jakarta and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) signed a Cessation of Hostilities agreement in Geneva, Switzerland in December 2002.

The government was represented by Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda, National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar and Indonesia Military (TNI) chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto, while the HDC was represented by chairman Martin Griffith and HDC director for Aceh Affairs David Gorman.

Endriartono said on Thursday that the talks were aimed at formulating the criteria for violations of the truce, which has sparked a debate between the government and GAM following the demilitarization phase on Feb. 9.

"We don't know their assumptions. That is why we are holding this meeting to discuss the matter," Endriartono said after the meeting, which is expected to end on Friday.

The government, Endriartono said, proposed two main points during the discussion. The first point was about the disarmament of GAM, and the second was about a possible independence campaign during the demilitarization phase.

Endriartono said the government understood that the Joint Security Committee (JSC) was facing difficulty in disarming GAM as the peace facilitator had no accurate information on the number of firearms or ammunition GAM possessed and it did not have enough monitors to observe the disarmament.

The JSC, which is charged with monitoring the peace process, groups representatives from the Indonesian government and GAM, as well as foreign monitors, who represent the HDC and are led by a Thai general.

The demilitarization agreement took effect two months after the signing of a peace accord aimed at ending 26 years of hostilities in the resource-rich province.

Under the agreement, GAM is expected to lay down 20 percent of its arms at 32 secret designated sites in eight regencies across Aceh every month until July. The TNI and the police, on the other hand, have had to move back to their barracks and change their position from a strike force to a defensive one.

"No firearms are to be found in Aceh in July. Otherwise, we will consider it a crime and the case will be handled accordingly by the police," Endriartono said.

The government, according to Endriartono, also proposed that any independence campaign in Aceh would be considered a violation of the truce.

Endriartono said the HDC would assess the government proposal and discuss it later with GAM.

The Geneva-based HDC has brokered peace talks between the government and GAM since 2000, including last year's truce. Previous cease-fires have never lasted.

Earlier this month, JSC's representative office in Takengon, Central Aceh was attacked by mobs, prompting JSC to evacuate its personnel to Banda Aceh.

Meanwhile, Thai armed forces commander Gen. Surayud Chulanont arrived in Banda Aceh on Thursday to visit Thai officers monitoring the cease-fire.

Surayud, who had arrived on Wednesday in Jakarta with a delegation of 12 officers, was scheduled to meet Governor Abdullah Puteh for a briefing, said Thai General Tanongsuk Tuvinun.