Indonesia: Monitors welcome welfare payments to former rebels

from Paras Indonesia
Published on 14 Oct 2005
The team of foreign monitors overseeing the peace process in Aceh province has welcomed the Indonesian government's initial provision of economic welfare payments to former separatist rebels.

In a press release issued October 12, the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) said the government had successfully completed the first installment of allocations of Rp1 million (about $100) per person to 3,000 former Free Aceh Movement (GAM) fighters.

AMM said the payments were made throughout the province over the past week.

"We very much welcome the smooth start of distributing allocations for former GAM combatants undertaken in a spirit of reconciliation, which reflects both parties' strong commitment to a peaceful Aceh," said AMM head, Dutch diplomat Pieter Feith.

The Indonesian government and GAM signed a peace deal in Helsinki on August 15 in an effort to bring an end to almost three decades of war in Aceh. The rebels have agreed to give up their fight for independence in return for greater autonomy and the right to form local political parties.

The government has been withdrawing non-local military and police personnel from the province and has also promised to provide economic assistance to the former rebels, while GAM is now in the process of demobilizing its 3,000 combatants by the end of this year.

According to an agreement made between representatives of the government and GAM in a Commission on Security Arrangements meeting on October 1, the government agreed to start the distribution of the "economic allocations".

AMM, which was formally established on September 15, said distribution has since taken place in all regencies in close cooperation between the respective regents and local GAM representatives.

AMM is a civilian mission comprising monitors from the European Union and five member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The mission also includes four mobile decommissioning teams.

The mission has established its headquarters in the provincial capital Banda Aceh, while 11 local offices have been set up in the districts of Banda Aceh, Sigli, Bireuen, Lhokseumawe, Langsa, Tapaktuan, Blang Pidie, Meulaboh, Lamno, Kutacane and Takengon.