Indonesian military stalls offensive move in Aceh

JAKARTA, Jul 19, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Indonesian Armed Forces Commander General Endriartono Sutarto said that Indonesian military would stall offensive moves in the rebellious province of Aceh and expected the Aceh rebels to take similar steps, in order to make the situation keep conducive.
The general made the statement after the delegates of the Indonesian government and separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) reached an agreement on formula to peace pact in Finland, Helsinky Sunday, in efforts to end a decades-conflict that has claimed more than 150,000 lives in the province.

"We show a good willingness by not conducting offensive moves. And the rebel is too. We do this to create a good atmosphere," he said here Monday.

However, the general said that if the rebels start to launch attacks, the military, he said, has an obligation to counter it.

Both sides in Helsinky agreed to gradually withdraw Indonesian troop from the devoutly Muslim province of Aceh, starting from September to December after the two sides sign truce on August 15.

Rebel's spokesman Bachtiar Abdullah said that the pulling out of the troops would be parallel with the handing over rebels's weapons, according to the Kompas daily Tuesday.

The Indonesian government and the GAM agreed to bring the settlement of the conflict to the negotiation table after the province was devastated by the tsunami in December last year. The first round of the talks began in January this year in Helsinki.

During the talks the GAM agreed to diminish its demand of independence and proposed to a self-ruled government in Aceh.

The GAM has struggled for establishment of an independent state since 1976.