European Union Requested to Extend Aceh Monitoring Presence

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has asked that a European Union-led monitoring mission remain in Aceh through local elections that are now tentatively scheduled for 10 December 2006. From an original target date of April, the elections were repeatedly postponed because of delays in passing enabling legislation. The Free Aceh Movement has similarly requested an extension.

The European Union, along with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), deployed the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) in support of an August 2005 peace agreement. There are currently 85 unarmed monitors on the ground. AMM was slated to end its presence by September 15.

AMM has been credited with helping to sustain peace in Aceh, and its efforts are seen as evidence of the EU's peacekeeping potential in far-flung conflict zones. Still, as the political transformation plays out in Aceh, there is some remaining fragility in the peace process; the elections and the transformation of the Acehnese rebel army into a political force are important hurdles. In the wake of the breakdown of peace in East Timor, there is growing concern that international peacekeeping efforts are sometimes wrapped up too hastily, before true stability has taken hold in a former conflict zone.

Shawn Donovan, “EU May Extend Peace Mission in Aceh,” Financial Times, 2 August 2006.
Link: msnbc.msn.com/id/14148830/print/1/displaymode/1098/.
“SBY Asks Aceh Monitors to Stay,” Jakarta Post, 4 August 2006.
Link: www.thejakartapost.com.