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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 January 2006, 11:35 GMT
Aceh police complete withdrawal
Indonesian soldiers celebrate as they prepare to leave Aceh, 29 December 2005
Extra soldiers have already left the province
The last Indonesian police reinforcements have been withdrawn from the province of Aceh under a landmark peace deal.

They follow thousands of troops who have also been pulled out of Aceh.

It is the last in a series of steps which have seen the central authorities reduce their military presence in Aceh, and rebels lay down arms in return.

The peace deal has raised hopes of an end to the 29-year-old conflict, which has claimed some 15,000 lives.

The peace deal finally came together following the tsunami a year ago which devastated large parts of the province.

Gam gives up all 840 of its weapons in four stages
Government withdraws 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

The deadline for the decommissioning of rebel weapons and withdrawal of Indonesian forces was the end of the year, but the 2,150 police who left on Thursday had been waiting since Saturday for a ship to take them home.

Before the peace deal was signed, Indonesia had more than 35,000 soldiers and 15,000 police in the province.

Some 14,700 soldiers and 9,100 police remain in Aceh, all of whom are locals.

Former rebels have handed in more than 800 weapons to international monitors.

Under the peace deal agreed in August, the rebels dropped their demand for full independence in return for more autonomy for the province, which lies at the northern tip of the island of Sumatra.

Analysts say the next challenges are to find jobs for the former rebel fighters and satisfy their goal of political participation.

Under the terms of the agreement, 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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