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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Indonesia MPs back Aceh autonomy
By Lucy Williamson
BBC News, Jakarta

Members of the Free Aceh Movement holds weapons during handover of weapons to the Aceh Monitoring Mission in Banda Aceh - 15/9/05
Gam has already disarmed and Indonesian troops have left Aceh
The Indonesian parliament has unanimously passed a new law giving more autonomy to the country's northern province of Aceh.

The law is the product of last year's peace agreement between the Indonesian government and the former separatist group, the Free Aceh Movement (Gam).

The peace deal, signed in the aftermath of the 2004 Asian tsunami, ended nearly 30 years of fighting in the province.

But not everyone is happy with the legislation.

The new law gives Aceh more autonomy than any other province in Indonesia.

It is designed to formalise the peace agreement signed by the Indonesian government and former separatist leaders last year.

Human rights court

But the government has had to work hard these past few months to get the political support it needs to pass the law.

And there have been some changes to it along the way.

map

Many people say these changes are designed to strengthen the authority of the central government and weaken that of the regional one.

According to some of Gam's leaders, they violate the spirit of the peace agreement. They have promised to appeal.

Human rights groups are also unhappy at the decision not to give Aceh's new human rights court the power to try crimes committed before its creation - in other words, all those committed during the decades of conflict.

But the Indonesian government says these voices are unrepresentative of most ordinary Acehnese, and that the law is a necessary compromise all parties can live with.




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