The return of a top separatist official to Indonesia's Aceh province is another sign that the peace process aimed at ending one of the world's most intractable conflicts is on track, an adviser to the Free Aceh Movement said yesterday.
"The peace process is generally going pretty well, and both sides seem to be sticking by the agreement," said Damien Kingsbury, an Australian academic who serves as an adviser to the rebel government-in-exile. "It may even have passed the point of no return."
He was speaking as Bakhtiar Abdullah, a member of the rebel leadership, was due to arrive in the provincial capital for the first time since the government and the Free Aceh Movement signed an accord in August that will grant wide-ranging autonomy to the province of 4 million people on the northern tip of Sumatra island.
The agreement, which is being supervised by a mission consisting of 250 monitors from the EU and Southeast Asian countries, calls for the disarmament of the rebels and the withdrawal of part of the Indonesian garrison.
The accord also calls for the gradual reintegration of the separatists -- previously banned under Indonesia's draconian internal security laws -- into political life. Their candidates will be allowed to take part in municipal and regional elections scheduled for next year, and a separatist party will take part in the next general election in 2009.
So far, rebel leaders have refused to return from exile in Sweden citing security concerns. But yesterday, Abdullah -- the movement's spokesman and key aide to its top leader Hasan di Tiro -- was due to fly in from Sweden.
It was not immediately clear whether di Tiro or other separatist leaders would follow.
"There is no doubt that there are concerns [over Abdullah's safety]," Kingsbury said in a telephone interview from Melbourne, Australia. "But on balance it's a necessary step because if he didn't go it would be destabilizing."
‘SACRIFICED’: Hu Weifeng became the sixth doctor to die from COVID-19 at Wuhan Central Hospital, where calls to raise the alarm over the virus were suppressed The death of a Chinese doctor at Wuhan’s “whistle-blower hospital” has prompted a wave of anger at hospital authorities for not protecting front-line health workers in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Hu Weifeng (胡衛鋒), 42, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital where the whistle-blower ophthalmologist Li Wenliang (李文亮) worked, died of the virus on Tuesday after a four-month battle. Hu is the sixth doctor from his hospital killed by the virus. Another doctor who spoke out, Ai Fen (艾芬), said that authorities told hospital staff not to wear protective gear so as not to cause panic and reprimanded her for “harming
RALLYING A DEFENSE: Former envoys wrote an op-ed piece defending Anna Lindstedt, who was removed for attempting to free Swedish book publisher Gui Minhai in China Sweden’s former ambassador to Beijing goes on trial in Stockholm on Friday for allegedly overstepping her mandate by trying to negotiate the release of a Chinese-Swedish dissident held in China. Anna Lindstedt is accused of brokering an unauthorized meeting during her time as ambassador to free publisher Gui Minhai (桂民海). Lindstedt — a veteran envoy who had previously represented Sweden in both Vietnam and Mexico, and acted as Sweden’s chief negotiator at the 2015 climate summit in Paris — has denied the charges. Gui, a Chinese-born Swedish citizen known for publishing gossipy titles about Chinese political leaders out of a Hong Kong book
‘LEAST WE CAN DO’: The gesture was made famous by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting police brutality that targeted minorities They are images that surprised and moved Americans: police officers taking a knee alongside protesters in the most widespread civil unrest to rock the US in decades — and in doing so embracing an anti-racism gesture denounced by US President Donald Trump. As Trump pushes for a crackdown on often-violent protests over the death of George Floyd, police officers from New York to Los Angeles to Houston, Texas, are making gestures of solidarity with demonstrators incensed at the latest case of an unarmed black man dying while in police custody. “I took off the helmet and laid the batons down. Where do
From boiled catfish soup to spicy fried frog, an eight-year-old in pyjamas and a chef’s hat is delighting Myanmar with her culinary prowess in a nation still being told to stay at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moe Myint May Thu’s mother posted a video online at the end of April showing off her daughter’s skills as the youngster threw together some spicy fried prawns. With her wide, gap-toothed grin, the video has bounced across social media and brought stardom to the child along with an online moniker: “Little Chef.” She now sells dishes to order and is counting the dividends. “I just