Aceh marks final troop withdrawal (BBC, 12/29/05)
A ceremony has taken place in Aceh marking the withdrawal of Indonesian troops sent there to combat an uprising which has cost more than 15,000 lives.
The pull-out is the final military step in a peace deal agreed with rebels from the Free Aceh Movement (Gam) aimed at ending 26 years of bitter conflict.
The rebels have already handed in their weapons and dissolved their armed wing.
The peace deal finally came together following the tsunami a year ago which devastated large parts of the province.
More than 120,000 Acehnese were killed in the disaster – and in the face of such widespread loss of life, the two sides appeared no longer to have the stomach for the fight, reports the BBC’s Jakarta correspondent, Rachel Harvey. […]
Under the peace deal agreed in August, the rebels dropped their demand for full independence in return for more autonomy for the province, which lies at the northern tip of the island of Sumatra.
After a number of years of autonomy, independence will come naturally.