International Peace Monitors Extend Stay in Aceh

In mid-May, the European Union and the Indonesian government agreed to extend the mandate of the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) until mid-September. While this is welcome news, the extension is too short.

The reason is that deliberations on an all-important Aceh governing law in the Indonesian House of Representatives have dragged on for so long that elections are now likely to take place in November 2006. The AMM extension was premised on elections taking place in August or September.

On-the-ground preparations for Aceh elections, however, are proceeding well. Some 90 percent of eligible voters had been registered by mid-June. Eight political parties are registered to contest the elections, and several candidates for governor and vice governor have been announced.

Even though the Free Aceh Movement GAM had announced that it would establish its own political party, the group decided in early June not to contest the election (but to allow its members to run on other tickets or as independent candidates).

“Direct Elections in Aceh Awaiting Passage of Administration Bill,” ANTARA News, 13 June 2006. Link: http://www.antara.co.id/en/seenws/?id=14294;
Nani Afrida, “GAM Allows Members to Run in Election,” The Jakarta Post, 2 June 2006. Link: http://www.thejakartapost.com;
“Monitors in Indonesia’s Aceh to Extend Mission,” ABC Asia Pacific News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) 12 May 2006. Link: http://abcasiapacific.com/news/stories_to/1637550.htm.