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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 September 2005, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Indonesia starts Aceh withdrawal
By Rachel Harvey
BBC News, Jakarta

Indonesian soldiers leaving Aceh 18/09/05
Hundreds of Indonesian soldiers are leaving the province
Indonesia has withdrawn around 800 soldiers from Aceh province - the latest move in a carefully managed disarming and demobilisation process.

It follows a recently signed peace agreement between the Indonesian government and separatist rebels of the Free Aceh Movement (Gam).

Last week the rebels began handing in their weapons.

Aceh has been the scene of conflict for almost 30 years, but the early signs for the new peace deal are encouraging.

One infantry battalion and an artillery company are out of Aceh and on their way home to bases elsewhere in Sumatra.

Four more battalions will be withdrawn in two days' time.

Fighting stops and Gam disarms
Government withdraws non-local forces
Government facilitates Aceh-based political parties
Amnesty granted to Gam members
Truth and reconciliation commission established
Aceh monitoring mission set up by EU and Asean
By the end of the week, more than 6,000 soldiers will have pulled out of Aceh.

It is the latest concrete sign that the peace deal between separatist rebels and the Indonesian government is about more than just words on a piece of paper.

Over three days last week, the rebels handed in 279 weapons, a quarter of their declared arsenal.

But international monitors overseeing the implementation of the peace agreement have disqualified 36 of the weapons for not meeting required specifications.

A small wrinkle in a process that has so far been remarkably smooth.

There will undoubtedly be more serious problems ahead - but the ordinary people of Aceh will have drawn comfort from what they have seen this peace deal deliver so far.

See troops pulling out of Aceh

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