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Friday, 12 May, 2000, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Aceh: First step to peace
Aceh women pray for peace
Acehnese women pray for peace
By regional analyst Clare Arthurs

In mosques and schools across Aceh people have been praying for the success of peace talks which culminated in a three-month ceasefire on Friday.

The deal has brought an official pause to the violence in the north-west province for the first time in more than two decades.

Fragile Archipelago
It has put the focus on ending the fighting and the abuses of human rights.

But the achievement of a political deal is merely a first step.

As people go on with their daily lives, they will be watching nervously to see who will be the first to reshoulder arms.

Trials

President Abudurrahman Wahid has made concessions to ease local mistrust of non-Acehnese military personnel in the province.

He's scaled-down their presence and human rights trials have begun.

But everywhere there are reminders of what many see as the excessive violence of Operation Rencong, the counter-insurgency campaign.

Many of those praying for peace will have lost family and friends.

Referendum

The violence has been on both sides, and while the separatist rebels may have been ordered to their barracks, they haven't withdrawn their demands.
Free Aceh Movement
The rebels still want independence

They want an independent Aceh but the best they have so far been offered is limited autonomy and a greater share of the wealth from the region's oil and gas reserves.

There is still pressure for a referendum on independence.

The issues on Aceh are more complex than the Indonesian Government faced over independence for East Timor.

It has already made it clear it won't give up territory, fearing a domino effect breaking up the nation.

This agreement promises a ceasefire but the resolution of Aceh's future still lies ahead.

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See also:

12 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Peace deal for Aceh
19 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Aceh massacre trial underway
20 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia military 'out of politics'
25 Nov 99 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Indonesia needs Aceh
09 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesian forces clash with Aceh rebels
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