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Police Call for Arms Surrender Ahead of Aceh Poll  Tapol
 Feb 15, 2012 03:11 PST 

From Joyo


The Jakarta Globe
February 14, 2012

Police Call for Arms Surrender Ahead of Aceh Poll

by Nurdin Hasan

Banda Aceh

Aceh Police have ordered people in possession of firearms and
explosives to surrender them by next Monday as shootings and bombings
increasingly unsettle the province ahead of regional elections.

“All explosives and firearms should be surrendered to the police at
the district or provincial levels,” Aceh Police chief Insp. Gen.
Iskandar Hasan said in Banda Aceh on Tuesday.

He warned that those still illegally possessing guns, ammunition and
explosives after Feb. 20 would be arrested and could face up to 20
years in prison.

“We will search door to door after that date to make sure all weapons
have been surrendered,” Iskandar said.

The run up to the local polls, scheduled for April 9, has been marred
by a spate of unresolved shootings and firebombings that the House of
Representatives in Jakarta has said are politically motivated.

The shootings began in October and have continued into the new year.
In the latest incident, two construction workers from Java were
wounded and another killed after an unknown gunman opened fire on a
group of workers in Aceh Besar district on Jan. 5.

Prior to that incident, six people had been killed in multiple
shootings across the province since Dec. 30.

Iskandar said police had arrested two people suspected to be involved
in the incidents.

“We are still hunting down other perpetrators. We have coordinated
with the military to be able to arrest them immediately,” he said,
adding that the police were still trying to determine motives.

While analysts suggest the violence is aimed at disrupting the
elections, some local authorities say the shootings are purely
criminal in nature and motivation.

Many local residents say the rampant shootings and bombings have been
taking place simply because many people still possess explosives and
guns inherited from the time when the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) was
still fighting to break the province away from Indonesia.

GAM dissolved itself in 2005, and many of its members are now seeking
public office in the upcoming elections.

The Aceh Party, for instance, has been the dominant political force in
Aceh since it was established after the 2005 peace deal that ended
three decades of struggle for independence in the province. It
includes many of the former GAM guerrillas who resisted Jakarta rule.

The party’s gubernatorial candidate for the April 9 polls is former
GAM foreign minister Zaini Abdullah. His running mate is Aceh Party
chairman Muzakir Manaf, GAM’s former armed forces commander.

The Aceh Police chief agreed that widespread circulation of firearms
and explosives among former GAM members continues to be a threat for
peace in the province.

Police reported confiscating 43 rifles, dozens of grenades, and more
than 7,000 bullets during 2011 alone.

Iskandar said between 800 and 1,000 firearms were still circulating
among Aceh residents.

Police have readied more than 10,000 officers to secure the election,
while the military has allocated 4,000 soldiers to assist in their
efforts.

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