Troops begin Aceh pull-out amid hope of lasting peace
Almost 15,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the often brutal struggle between Indonesian state forces and the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM).
The peace deal is the product of talks that came about after last year's Boxing Day tsunami, which killed at least 120,000 people in Aceh. It is being hailed as the best chance for peace since the conflict broke out.
Around 1,200 Indonesian troops left northern Aceh on board naval vessels yesterday in the first of a series of withdrawals. Indonesia has agreed to withdraw all security forces it sent specifically to fight the rebellion.
In return, GAM will give up its demands for independence and accept a form of local self-government. The rebels have agreed to hand over their weapons.
Placed under martial law and sealed off from the outside world, for years Aceh disappeared from international consciousness, apart from the warnings from human rights groups of brutal repression.
But with December's tsunami, all that changed. Faced with a major catastrophe in Aceh they could not cope with, the Indonesian authorities were forced to open up the province to international aid. The sudden interest put pressure on the two sides to talk.
Leaders from both sides also say the scale of the disaster forced them to rethink their attitudes to Aceh. Credit has been given too to President Susilo Bambang Yudhyono, elected last year, who has been prepared to compromise to resolve the conflict in a way his predecessors never were.
The government has agreed to GAM's demand that it be allowed to become a local political party.
- 1 Rowan Atkinson to sell £10 million McLaren 'supercar' he crashed into a tree and a lamppost
- 2 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 3 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Edgar Froese dead: Tangerine Dream founder dies aged 70
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Syrian refugee child beaten by Istanbul Burger King manager for eating customer’s leftover food
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...