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Indonesia's Aceh Votes in Governorship Race Between Former Rebels  Tapol
 Apr 10, 2012 09:41 PDT 

From Joyo


Indonesia's Aceh Votes in Governorship Race Between Former Rebels

By Reza Munawir

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, April 9 (Reuters) - Two former separatist
rebels vied for governorship of Indonesia's Aceh region on Monday
after an election campaign plagued by violence in a gas-rich province
recovering from a devastating tsunami eight years ago.

An exit poll by the Indonesia Circle Institute polling agency showed
rebel former foreign minister Zaini Abdullah from Partai Aceh with
more than 54.4 percent. Abdullah was foreign minister for former rebel
group, the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

Former Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf got 29.9 percent of vote, the
Institute said. Yusuf stepped down as governor in February when his
term ended and is running as an independent.

Official results from the Aceh Independent Election Commission are
expected next week.

In the second only governor's election in Aceh, a semi-autonomous
region on Indonesia's northwestern tip that has used Islamic law since
insurgents fighting Jakarta's rule signed a peace deal in 2005, both
sides complained of voter intimidation.

Yusuf said several campaign vehicles belonging to his team were burned
by unidentified attackers.

"There is hindrance in the field, intimidation. People were scared.
There were murders, kidnappings, knocking on people's doors to tell
them to not vote for a certain candidate and that if they don't pick a
certain candidate there will be a war," he told reporters on Monday.

At least thirteen people died in the run-up to the election in Sumatra
island's poorest province, Jakarta-based risk firm Concord Consulting
said in a report.

"The elections, which were delayed three times since last year, have
been plagued with alleged politically motivated violence, including at
least 13 murders," the report said.

Aceh shows that a guerilla conflict can be resolved by allowing rebels
to take part in the political process, said security analyst Sidney
Jones of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

One challenge for Abdullah and Partai Aceh if they win is to reconcile
with supporters of other parties, she said.

"The most important issue is to show that everybody will be treated
equally whether or not they were past combatants or past supporters of
the Partai Aceh movement ... and that there will be serious attention
to the economic and social problems of Aceh," she said.

Rebels laid down their arms after the December 26, 2004, tsunami that
left 170,000 dead or missing. In all, the tsunami killed about 230,000
people in 13 Indian Ocean nations.

Aceh benefited from billions of dollars of aid after the disaster and
has recovered gradually, but many there are demanding more stability.

The region was plagued by the separatist conflict for three decades,
including periods of military rule. Human rights abuses were rife and
thousands of civilians died.

Former rebels now dominate politics and violence during the campaign
was linked to the aftermath of the insurgency. The main fault lines
are between Partai Aceh, formed by GAM and which controls Aceh's
parliament, and Yusuf who won elections in 2006.

"What Acehnese want is peace. It's a definite prize because Aceh has
suffered from 30 years of conflict," said Irfandi Djailani of Forum
LSM Aceh, a consortium of non-governmental groups.

(Additional reporting and writing by Olivia Rondonuwu; Editing by
Louise Ireland and Matthew Bigg)

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