Yudhoyono: Aceh is an internal problem

Updated On: Feb 08, 2005

Jakarta– The Indonesian government regards Aceh as a domestic problem and will not allow it to be internationalised, said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The President said he had received a guarantee from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that the latter`s special envoy, former US President Bill Clinton, would not interfere in the Indonesian government’s efforts to reach a peace deal with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

As special envoy, Mr Clinton will coordinate international private assistance to Aceh and other tsunami-hit countries. A UN spokesman was also quoted as saying that Mr Clinton had been given the authority to take part in efforts to end the 30-year-old separatist war in Aceh.

"I was surprised as I never internationalise domestic issues," Mr Yudhoyono said on Feb 6.

The Aceh issue is Indonesia`s internal problem, he added.

“Our effort to seek international supportis made to explain thatIndonesiawants to solve the issue seriously".

Mr Yudhoyono added that the Aceh problem could only be solved within the framework of special autonomy for the largely Muslim province. GAM must also accept that Aceh is an integral part of the unitary state ofIndonesia.

In an interview with the Financial Times recently,Mr Yudhoyono said his government was serious in wanting to negotiate a final end to the conflict. He added thatJakartawould accept an invitation from mediatorMartti Ahtisaari,Finland’s former president, to follow up initial talks inHelsinkilast month.

Mr Yudhoyono insisted that GAM’s demand for independence was out the question.

“We know that no single country in the world supports the independence of Aceh. They support Indonesian territorial integrity. So, special autonomy is a good solution, actually, to terminate the conflict.”

* GAM solution will not be internationalised (Kompas, Feb 7)

*RI President: Clinton won’t interfere in Aceh conflict handling (Antara, Feb 7)

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