Indonesia and Aceh: Ceasefire or more?

The signing of a peace agreement with a rebel group is generally good news, especially in the light of the ‘war’ against terrorism and when the conflict concerned is within Indonesia, scene of the Bali bomb.

The World Today
4 minute READ

Dr Kirsten E. Schulze

Senior Lecturer, International History, London School of Economics

Will the deal in Aceh, whose lawlessness and strategic position on the Malacca Straits has already attracted Al Qaeda’s attention, bring peace? Or is it just another truce during which both sides will regroup, rearm and reposition themselves for the next round?

For two years the Indonesian government and the Aceh Liberation Movement, or Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM), have been trying to negotiate an end to the conflict in the restive province. On December 9 – after six months of repeated deadlines, postponed negotiations, threats of an all-out Indonesian military operation, and intense foreign diplomatic pressure on both parties – the talks produced what has been widely hailed as a peace agreement. However, closer analysis of the agreement and its interpretation by the two parties suggests that it is little more than a truce which leaves the fundamental issues unresolved.

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