Marking the first anniversary of the signing of a pact between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh movement, Secretary-General Kofi Annan hailed progress in efforts to build peace in the region, which has seen nearly 30 years of separatist conflict, and said elections will mark the next crucial chapter in the process.
In a message marking the milestone, the Secretary-General noted that over the past year, the Indonesian Government has withdrawn its troops from Aceh, while the Free Aceh Movement has handed over its declared arsenal of weapons, and dissolved its armed wing.
In addition, the National Parliament last month unanimously adopted an autonomy framework which will pave the way for Aceh’s first direct local elections. “Only a strong democracy could have done that. It shows that Indonesia’s new democracy is growing stronger by the day,” Mr. Annan said.
He stressed that elections will mark “ the next crucial chapter in Aceh’s transition” and urged all involved to make them a success. “Any remaining concerns must be addressed through the political and legislative process,” he cautioned. “It would be tragic if, after coming so far, any party in Aceh resorted to violence or coercion.”
The Secretary-General urged efforts to ensure that the peace accord is fully carried out. “The people of Aceh want to live without fear, and to build their future within a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Indonesia,” he said. “Let us show that peace in Aceh is finally here to stay.”