Subject: Aceh Local Parties Seek Full Implementation of Helsinki Pact After Poll Victories

also: Aceh Party Claims Historic Victory in Provincial Polls; Aceh polls run smoothly despite tense run-up

The Jakarta Post April 11, 2009

Aceh local parties seek full implementation of Helsinki pact

by Alfian


Three local Acehnese parties likely to take easy victories in Thursday's legislative election are seeking the full implementation of the Helsinki peace agreement and the settlement of unresolved human rights abuses that occurred during nearly 30 years of bloody conflict.

The peace pact was signed by the government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in 2005 to end the 29-year conflict which claimed more than 2000 lives. The parties claim points within this pact and the 2006 Aceh administration law have not yet been fully implemented, affecting democracy and people's welfare in the area.

The Aceh Party (PA), the Acehnese People's Independent Aspiration Party (SIRA), and the People's Aceh Party (PRA) have all claimed victory in the legislative polls and said that if they gain greater power at the provincial and regency levels they will argue for the pact to be rolled out in full.

The peace agreement stipulates that Aceh should have its own authority in dealing with domestic affairs, with the exception being international relations, defense and security, monetary and fiscal affairs and judicial and religious affairs. Those must remain under control of the central government.

Adnan Beuransyah, spokesperson for the Aceh Party, told The Jakarta Post recently that the terms on power between the provincial administration and the central government were still unclear.

"According to the MOU, all business and investment permits are supposed to be issued by Aceh authorities, but in reality, the current conditions are no different from the past," Adnan said. He claimed permits in two sectors could only be issued with approval from the central government, and this had hampered the inflow of foreign investment to the province and the planned development of Sabang into an international free port.

Adnan said the MOU also stipulated that 70 percent of oil and gas revenue from Aceh would go to the province while the remaining 30 percent would be directed to the central government. "Up until today, there has been no external audit on oil and gas revenues. Aceh has never known how much revenue actually comes from oil and gas exploration."

Vice governor Muhammad Nazar said there were numerous unresolved problems regarding the peace pact which needed to be settled.

Also chairman of the patron board of SIRA, Nazar said to date the regional government had not been involved in calculating the revenue from oil and gas reserves.

SIRA will be seeking a review of the fiscal relationship between the province and the central government in terms of the exploration of natural resources, and will argue that the provincial government should play an active role in calculating the government's revenue from the provincial mining sector.


The Jakarta Globe

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Aceh Party Claims Historic Victory in Provincial Polls

Nurdin Hasan

The Aceh Party, founded by former guerrilla fighters of the Free Aceh Movement, or GAM, declared victory on Friday in provincial legislative elections held the previous day.

It was the first time in Indonesian history that a region-based political party was allowed to contest a poll, and the Aceh Party made the most of it, claiming a stranglehold on the provincial legislature.

Based on the reports we received from our party's election observers at polling stations around Aceh, the party has won 75 percent of the vote," said Adnan Beuransyah, a party spokesman.

He said vote tallies for the Aceh Party were nearly 90 percent in regions such as Pidie district, Pidie Jaya, Bireuen, North Aceh, East Aceh and Lhokseumawe city, which were GAM strongholds during its 29-year conflict with the Indonesian Armed Forces.

However, Aceh's Independent Election Commission, or KIP, has not yet announced any official results from Thursday's polls, which were also contested by leading national parties. Results from an independent quick count had also not been released by late Friday.

Under the peace agreement that GAM and the central government signed in August 2005, Aceh-based political parties were allowed to contest provincial elections and were exempted from a national law requiring parties to have branches across the country.

Six local parties battled 37 national parties for 69 seats in Aceh's provincial legislature and 645 seats on district and municipal councils. Several sources said the Aceh Party also won a majority of seats on the councils, but there was no official confirmation.

Violent incidents marred the campaign season in the province, including the slaying of five Aceh Party candidates. Tension between the party and military forces stationed there was also evident. Election Day, however, was notably peaceful.

Thursday was also the first time that former GAM members voted in a legislative election.

As we already know, we used to fight with weapons," said Adnan, who joined GAM as a boy and spent nine years in prison for treason. "But the Aceh Party belongs to all the people of Aceh."


The Jakarta Post

April 11, 2009

Aceh Party claims victory

BANDA ACEH: The Aceh Party, established and fully supported by former members of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), claimed a victory in the legislative election on Thursday.

"Our internal quick count found that the Aceh Party has secured 70 percent of votes for the provincial legislature," the party's spokesman, Adnan Beuransyah, told reporters on Friday.

Adnan said the Aceh Party also dominated the vote in 23 cities and regencies in Aceh, with votes ranging between 50 and 70 percent.

"We even won in Bener Meriah regency which is not one of our strongholds . This victory shows that our party has secured the trust of the Aceh people."

The quick count also shows that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party had won the majority of votes, up to around 20 percent.

"Aceh people give credit to Pak SBY for his role in bringing peace to Aceh," Adnan said.


The Jakarta Post

April 10, 2009

Aceh polls run smoothly despite tense run-up

by Alfian and Hotli Simanjuntak

Banda Aceh

The legislative polls were held peacefully in the restive Aceh province, despite a volley of accusations of intimidation by local parties' members and supporters.

More than 3 million eligible voters went to more than 62,000 polling stations to elect their representatives for the House of Representatives, Regional Representatives Council, and provincial, regency and municipal legislatures. Unlike in other provinces, eligible voters here were more enthusiastic about casting their ballots because besides the 38 national parties, six local parties were also allowed to contest the legislative polls.

The presence of local parties was recommended in the 2005 Helsinki peace pact between the Indonesian government and the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) to end the three-decade conflict that had claimed more than 2,000 lives.

The police, tasked with maintaining security and public order, lauded the peaceful and secure elections, and expressed hope that the upcoming presidential election would take place in a similar fashion.

"The Aceh Police chief has monitored the election in the province and, thanks be to God, no security threats have emerged so far," said Aceh Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Farid A Soleh.

Voting went ahead peacefully in Cot Keueung, a former GAM stronghold in Aceh Besar regency, as voters showed up early in the morning at polling stations.

"We come here happily without any concern of intimidation. We are here because we want to cast our votes," said local resident Roukayah.

She added she was optimistic her vote would contribute to the province's development.

"Every single vote counts and is important."

Cot Keueung was notorious as a "red area", a term used by locals to describe an area where frequent violence occurred. Roukayah said one of her brothers was murdered in front of her house during the past conflict.

Similar scenes of calm were also found in Seuneubok Meureudu village, East Aceh.

"Everything is safe, as we conducted a night watch on Wednesday night," said local resident Sulaiman.

Marring the otherwise peaceful polling day were caustic accusations traded between Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf - a former GAM combatant and senior Aceh Party figure - and Deputy Governor Muhammad Nazar, chief patron of the SIRA Party.

Irwandi, who actively campaigned for the Aceh Party, claimed his party continued to face intimidation even on the last day of the election.

"The Aceh Party's legislative candidates in Langsa and Aceh Pidie regency were intimidated by members of another party," Irwandi told reporters after casting his vote in Bandar Baru subdistrict, Kuta Alam, Banda Aceh.

Countering Irwandi's accusations, Nazar said SIRA had long since been the target of intimidation.

"SIRA's observers in several regencies, including Aceh Jaya, East Aceh and Aceh Besar, were forbidden from coming to polling stations by one of the local parties," Nazar said, referring to the Aceh Party.

He added his party would file a report on the intimidation with the Constitutional Court.

Besides the squabble between the governor and his deputy, the polls were also marked with some logistical problems.

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