Indonesia

Rare peaceful week in Indonesia's Aceh - mediators

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JAKARTA, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Indonesia's troubled province of Aceh has been peaceful for a week and a Geneva-based organisation that brokered a peace deal between the government and rebels said on Friday that the pact appeared to be working despite initial pessimism.
Separately, the World Bank said it would join officials from Japan and the European Union in a visit to the natural gas-rich province next week in a sign of support for the peace process.

The delegation expects to gather information about the implementation of the accord and the prospects for reconstruction and development in the post-conflict period, the bank said. The Henry Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue said the quiet week in Aceh marked a significant step following the December 9 peace accord, which had been greeted with widespread pessimism on whether it would hold following previous failures to resolve the decades-long conflict that has taken thousands of lives.

"A month ago, I can't imagine anyone even remotely considering that seven days could go by without some kind of armed conflict between GAM (the rebel Free Aceh Movement) and Indonesia," said Henry Dunant Centre representative and mediator David Gorman in a statement.

The group attributed the quiet week partly to the deployment of international monitors throughout the province and the setting up of an information exchange under which both sides would report on any troop movements.

Many Acehnese, although mistrustful of promises from Jakarta, have welcomed the accord, saying they have begun to feel safer.

The Centre said that in the two years leading up to the signing, a total of 4,000 people -- civilians, government troops and rebels -- were killed in the conflict.

Indonesia and GAM signed the comprehensive pact in Switzerland after several failed ceasefires agreed since 2000.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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