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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Indonesia troops likely to help rebuild in Aceh

The use of troops would be a sensitive issue in Aceh.

india Updated: Dec 26, 2005 17:14 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

The agency tasked with overseeing rebuilding in Indonesia's Aceh province said on Monday it was discussing the possibility of using Indonesian troops to help reconstruction in the tsunami-hit zone.

The use of such troops, who were engaged in a nearly three-decade war with rebel separatists until a tsunami-inspired peace deal was signed in August, would be a highly sensitive issue in Aceh.

Talks on involving soldiers took place last week, said Sudirman Said, spokesman for the Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR).

They were "only at a preliminary stage and had not discussed the number of troops" that could assist the agency, he said.

"The need to handle difficult jobs remains and we think that the military could be helpful on this issue," he said, adding that the BRR understood the plan would be a "sensitive issue."

"We discussed the possibility for the military to provide us with some assistance for arduous tasks which contractors find unattractive," he said.

"If we reach an agreement -- and this is a big if -- only Aceh-based troops would be deployed to help us.

"The armed forces expressed its readiness but asked us to assure other parties that whatever work they will perform is instigated by the local government and not their initiative," he said.

Critics cited in the local media have said that the use of troops, especially if they were to be deployed from outside Aceh, could destabilise the peace pact between Jakarta and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels.

The agreement has so far succeeded beyond expectations, with rebels earlier this month handing in their weapons and the military due this week to pull out their last non-local troops.

The tsunami, which occurred one year ago, left 168,000 people dead or missing in Aceh and spurred the warring sides to peace negotiations.

The separatist conflict claimed about 15,000 lives, most of them civilians.

First Published: Dec 26, 2005 10:24 IST

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