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Indonesia's Aceh Province Celebrates Anniversary of Landmark Peace Deal


Thousands of people in Indonesia's Banda Aceh city are celebrating the anniversary of last year's landmark peace deal between separatists in Aceh province and the central government in Jakarta.

At least 100,000 people are expected to converge on the provincial capital, Tuesday.

Last August 15, Aceh's former rebels and Indonesian authorities agreed to end their 29-year conflict, which killed at least 15,000 people. The Acehnese won greater self-governance in exchange for ending their independence struggle.

Negotiations on the peace agreement took place during the months after the catastrophic Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in December 2004. Aceh, on Sumatra's northern tip, was the closest population center to the center of the quake, and it suffered enormous damage. More than 150 people died in the disaster and its immediate aftermath.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has marked Tuesday's peace anniversary by urging everyone in the country to uphold the Aceh agreement, to end that conflict permanently.

Some former rebels in the province have complained that a law enacted in Jakarta last month ignores provisions in the peace accord that should have given Aceh clear autonomy. However, international monitors say the law is broadly in line with the peace agreement.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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