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Note: The painting of Ambassador Andrew Young. The painting is now hung at the main lobby of Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, Atlanta
 
Indonesian Ministry Makes Secret Bid for Funds to Crush Acheh Rebels

JAKARTA, June 29 (AFP)  Indonesia's defence ministry has lodged a secret request for almost US$55 million dollars to continue military operations against separatists in tsunami-hit Acheh province, a report said Wednesday.

he classified request for funds to support the "security-restoration operation", which the Kompas newspaper said was signed by defence minister Juwono Sudarsono, comes despite ongoing talks to end 30 years of conflict.

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Kompas said that a copy of the letter was also sent to a parliamentary
commission dealing with security, politics and foreign affairs two days after it was sent to the finance ministry.

Commission member Joko Susilo told the paper that legislators deemed the undercover request inappropriate since a state of civilian emergency, which would entitle the defence ministry to more funds, has been lifted in Acheh.

Both Susilo and defence ministry officials declined immediate comment on the report.

The separatist Free Acheh Movement has been fighting since 1976 for the independence of resource-rich Acheh, Indonesia's westernmost province, and the conflict that has left close to 15,000 people -- mostly civilians -- dead.

The government imposed martial law in Acheh in May 2003 and launched a massive anti-rebel military campaign to rid the resource-rich province of the guerrillas.

It downgraded the status to civilian emergency the following year and in May 2005 returned the province to normal administration as it mounted a major reconstruction programme to rebuild after the tsunami disaster.

The government and the rebels are next month to hold a fifth round of
talks in Helsinki, which officials say is likely to result in a lasting
peace deal by August.

2005 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved

 

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