Aceh peace accord signed

The Aceh peace accord between the Indonesian government and separatist rebels in Aceh province was signed in the Finnish capital of Helsinki on Monday, the culmination of six months of tough negotiations. But fears remain the pact may prove short-lived.

Rebel leaders are concerned pro-government militias armed by the Indonesian military may disrupt the peace deal. A government spokesman told CNN Tuesday such issues would not threaten the new accord.

The rules agreed upon in the truce should be followed meticulously by both sides in a climate where potential "peace spoilers" could interfere. The continued violence in Aceh after the truce was informally agreed upon last month is testament to the dangers that lie ahead, because long-term conflict breeds warmongers and all kinds of groups who have their own interests in keeping the war going. These interests can bring the government and the military into conflict, Jakarta Post informs.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa said the presence of third-party monitoring forces in Aceh and the "strong determination" by both sides to implement the agreement would quell those worries.

Monitoring troops will be provided by the European Union and ASEAN.

"We are confident ... we can overcome those kinds of concerns," he said.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono later rejected nationalist criticism that his government was giving foreigners too big a role in the peace agreement, Reuters news service reports.

"The conflict in Aceh is a domestic issue. We never intended to internationalize it," Yudhoyono said in a speech prepared for delivery to parliament ahead of Indonesia's August 17 independence day.

"The presence of foreign monitors from the European Union and ASEAN to monitor the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding is not a foreign interference into our domestic affair," he was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Aceh has suffered nearly 30 years of often savage internal violence resulting in 15,000 deaths as independence fighters sought autonomy from Jakarta's control and access to the revenue generated by the province's energy resources.

But when the December 26 earthquake and tsunami struck, killing as many as 130,000 people, it acted as a catalyst for renewed peace negotiations.

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