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Last Updated: Monday, 19 December 2005, 10:23 GMT
Aceh rebels surrender last arms
Members of the Free Aceh Movement hand over their weapons. File photo
Weapons have been handed over to international monitors
Rebels in the Indonesian province of Aceh have handed in all the weapons they agreed to under a peace deal.

A foreign monitor said rebels from the Free Aceh Movement (Gam) had given up the final 35 weapons on Monday, meaning 840 arms had now been surrendered.

In return, the last of the Indonesian troops and police reinforcements in the province are set to be withdrawn.

The moves are part of a peace deal between rebels and the government to end 26 years of bitter conflict.

A monitor for the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM), which is overseeing the peace moves, said that 37 arms had been handed over on Monday, of which 35 had been accepted.

Added to the 805 weapons previously surrendered, Gam has now fulfilled its side of the peace deal's first step, although the Indonesian government has disputed some of the weapons handed in.

Gam gives up all 840 of its weapons in four stages
Government matches that by withdrawing some 24,000 troops in four stages
Disarmament and withdrawal to be complete by 31 December
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

Under the peace plan, which was signed in Finland in August, the deadline for the decommissioning of rebel weapons and withdrawal of Indonesian forces was the end of the year.

But according to the BBC's Jakarta correspondent, there has always been another date in mind - 26 December, the anniversary of the tsunami disaster which destroyed huge swathes of Aceh and killed about 260,000 people.

It was the tsunami which prompted the two sides to get back to the negotiating table.

So far the peace process has gone far more smoothly than anyone expected but there are major obstacles ahead, our correspondent says.

The first is integrating former rebels back into civilian life. The other is the political future of the province.

Under the terms of the agreement the Gam should be allowed to form a local political party but that requires a change in the law which must be approved by parliament in Jakarta.

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