Will TNI stand in the way of peace in Aceh?

Updated On: Jun 10, 2005

Jakarta– As optimism grows over Aceh’s peace prospects, one big question remains: Will the Indonesian military (TNI) readily accept any agreement hammered out by the civilian government negotiators and representatives of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM)?  The rebels don’t think so.    

In a statement issued to the Associated Press, GAM warned that the peace deal it was negotiating with the government could be undermined by the Indonesian military. The TNI,  which has long treated the resource-rich province as its own lucrative fiefdom, has been a less than enthusiastic supporter of the peace talks.    

The fourth round of talks ended in Helsinkion May 31, with both sides claiming progress. In fact, an Indonesian government negotiator told The Jakarta Post that  some 90 per cent of the issues put on the table had been resolved.   

“Aceh is a source of income, a place to loot. The tsunami was a godsend for them (TNI) because the foreign aid is a new source of loot. A peace agreement would deny them that loot,” the rebels said in their statement.  

"If any armed group is going to stop the agreement from working in the field or at the table, it will be the Indonesian military," the statement added.    

The  military spokesman in Aceh, Lt-Col  Eri Soediko, was quick to refute GAM’s allegations.”This is a fabrication. We are here to guard the whole of Aceh province from the rebels so the people can go about their daily activities without any problems," he said.

·         Aceh rebels warn TNI may wreck peace deal (The Jakarta Post, June 7) – www.thejakartapost.com