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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007, 06:27 GMT
Ex-rebel becomes Aceh governor
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A former separatist rebel has been sworn in as the first directly elected governor of Indonesia's Aceh province.

Irwandi Yusuf was inaugurated at an official ceremony in the provincial capital Banda Aceh.

He won last December's elections, which were held as the result of a peace deal between the government and rebels from the Free Aceh Movement (Gam).

The agreement ended nearly 30 years of civil conflict in the province, which killed 15,000 people.

About 3,000 invited guests, including diplomats and Indonesian government representatives, gathered to see Irwandi Yusuf sworn into his post.

Irwandi Yusuf told the local press that winning the election to become governor was easy, and now the hard work would start.

He said his first priority was to improve the economy, which is still struggling to recover from the devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami that killed an estimated 170,000 Acehnese.

Compromise deal

Formerly a Gam spokesman, Irwandi Yusuf was jailed for treason in 2003, but escaped when the tsunami struck his prison.

IRWANDI YUSUF
Irwandi Yusuf
Former spokesman and speech writer for Gam rebels
Escaped from jail during the December 2004 tsunami
A veterinarian by training, also worked as a university lecturer
Gam's representative monitoring last year's peace deal with Jakarta
Much of Aceh was devastated by the disaster - and the scale of the destruction spurred the rebels and the government into peace talks.

Gam rebels gave up a demand for independence in exchange for partial autonomy.

In exchange, they won the right to participate fully in democratic elections, with the posts of governor and deputy governor - previously appointed by central government in Jakarta - now chosen by the Acehnese people.

Irwandi Yusuf was one of eight candidates in the December poll to decide on the province's first governor, and he won a convincing victory.

Prior to the result, he said he was a reluctant candidate who had agreed to run at the urging of religious leaders and rebel commanders.

"Being the governor is like being in prison, I will lose my freedom," he was quoted as saying.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Irwandi Yusuf being sworn in



SEE ALSO
Peace monitors end Aceh mission
15 Dec 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Aceh frontrunner praises election
12 Dec 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Aceh votes for major change
12 Dec 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Q&A: Aceh governor election
11 Dec 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Viewpoints: Aceh's first elections
06 Dec 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Indonesia
18 Jul 06 |  Country profiles

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