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Irwandi Ups His Political Ante by Forming National Aceh Party  Tapol
 Apr 25, 2012 09:20 PDT 

From Joyo

The Jakarta Post
Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Irwandi Ups His Political Ante by Forming National Aceh Party

Hotli Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Banda Aceh

Having failed to get reelected in the Aceh gubernatorial election on
April 9, Irwandi Yusuf has established a new political party.

The National Aceh Party (PNA), which was registered on Tuesday, is
chaired by Irwansyah, known as Teungku Muksalmina.

He went to the Law and Human Rights Ministry office in Banda Aceh with
several members of Irwandi’s campaign team.

Among them were Ligadinsyah, Muharram, Amin bin Ahmad Marzuki, Lukman
Age and Thamren Ananda, but not Irwandi himself.

“The newly born National Aceh Party will serve as the vehicle of
aspiration and unity for the Aceh people, particularly for those who
adhere to practical politics as part of democracy,” Irwansyah said.

Pending verification by the ministry, the party appeared to have met
the necessary requirements with the establishment of regional boards
being pursued in the 23 regencies across the province.

Through his new political vehicle, Irwandi, the former intelligence
chief for the now-defunct Free Aceh Movement (GAM) separatist group,
hopes for better results than those in the recent election. The
election was won by bitter rival and former GAM chief Zaini Abdullah
by a wide margin of votes.

Zaini and running mate Muzakir Manaf ran in the poll as candidates
from the Aceh Party, a local political party that Irwandi also
belonged to at the start of his governorship term.

Irwandi contested this year’s poll as an independent candidate however
following a rift within the Aceh Party that saw the breakaway of some
of the party’s board members to support Irwandi during the
occasionally violent campaign.

Apart from establishing the new party, Irwandi has filed a lawsuit
with the Constitutional Court over the results of the election,
claiming that the poll had been marred by fraud and intimidation and
demanding the results be annulled.

Irwansyah denied suggestions that the establishment of the National
Aceh Party had been motivated by former GAM elites’ disappointment at
the poll’s results.

“Indeed, many National Aceh Party’s leaders are former GAM combatants
expelled from the Aceh Party and the KPA,” he said. The KPA refers to
the Aceh Transitional Committee, formed in the wake of the 2005
Helsinki peace agreement between GAM and Jakarta.

The PNA’s establishment has been welcomed by one observer as helping
to nurture democracy in Aceh.

“Hopefully, it can create competitiveness in Aceh’s political
landscape with a framework to foster the message of peace mandated in
the Helsinki agreement and Aceh’s administrative bylaws,” Taufik
Abdullah, a lecturer at Malikul Saleh University said.

The PNA, he said, should be able to complement the Aceh Party,
especially when the latter experiences political setbacks.

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