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EU Official Urges Jakarta to Speed Up Aceh Law

  • Nancy-Amelia Collins

The European Union's foreign policy chief has urged Indonesia to speed the passage of an overdue law for governing the province of Aceh, in accordance with a peace deal signed last year with separatist rebels.

The European Union's top foreign policy official, Javier Solana, during a visit to Jakarta Friday, said the EU is pleased with how well the peace deal is working in Aceh.

Nearly three decades of conflict ended in August, when the Indonesian government and Aceh rebels signed a peace accord.

The EU now heads the monitoring mission overseeing the peace process.

But, Solana says, the EU is concerned at the time parliament is taking to pass a key law for governing the province.

"We would like very much that, by the end of the month of June, the process will be over," he said. "We are concerned with the rhythm, at which the law is being discussed in the parliament, the law for the government of Aceh."

The law will allow the former rebels from the Free Aceh Movement the right to form their own political party - a key provision of the peace accord - as well as grant the province self government.

Under the peace accord, the law was supposed to be passed by the end of March.

Both the Indonesian government and the former rebels say they want the law speeded up, but neither considers the delay a breach of the agreement.

Solana, who is in Indonesia on a three-day visit, will visit the tsunami-ravaged province of Aceh on Saturday to observe the reconstruction there and the monitoring mission.

Solana also said Friday that the EU supported the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in its efforts to push wayward member Burma, also known as Myanmar, toward democratic reform.

"We share the same frustration, and we think that, together, we have to see how we can get Myanmar evolving in the direction that it was supposed to be evolving," he said. "It's a country that belongs to the region because of ASEAN, and it should be a country that has the same rules and the same behavior as the rest of the countries of ASEAN."

Solana made the remarks after ASEAN foreign ministers, meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali, announced they had failed to reach a consensus on how to push military-ruled Burma toward democracy.

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