Jakarta – The issue of foreign involvement in the ongoing Aceh peace talks has threatened to become a political hot potato for the Indonesian government. Many Indonesian legislators fear that this will lead to the internationalisation of the Aceh conflict and intervention in Indonesia's internal affairs.
During the fourth round of talks that ended in May, the government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) agreed to allow representatives from the European Union and Asean to observe the implementation of any peace agreement that might be achieved in the next round of talks. The talks are scheduled to take place in July in Helsinki, Finland.
The state-sponsored think-tank, National Resilience Institute, echoing the view of many legislators, said the "internationalisation" of the Aceh talks would give GAM the opportunity to enhance its political status in the eyes of the international community.
Mr A S Hikam, a member of the House of Representatives Commission 1 on Defence and Foreign Affairs, told Tempo magazine: "It'll be a matter of time before they (GAM) would ask for the presence of a peacekeeping force in the conflict."
Another member of the commission, Mr Djoko Susilo, complained to The Jakarta Post that the government did not inform the House beforehand that it had invited a group of international observers to Aceh.
The 12-member delegation, comprising representatives from the EU, Asean and the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), arrived in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh on June 28. The CMI is a Finnish-based mediation group that organised the Aceh peace talks.
A government spokesman said the team would study the feasibility of observing any peace agreement reached between the government and GAM rebels.
Of the visit, Mr Djoko said: "This is really a careless act. The fact that most legislators did not even know about this - I found out about it from a source - means the government once again bypassed the House in making a vital move."
* EU observers’ visit to Aceh questioned (The Jakarta Post, June 30)
*International peacekeeping experts arrive in Aceh (Antara, June 30)