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Indonesia Peace Deal Seen Near Collapse - 2003-05-13

Indonesian leaders say they will consult with Parliament before they launch a new military offensive in Aceh province and may suggest the imposition of martial law for the region. It appears a peace accord to end decades of violence is near collapse.

Indonesia's top security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says the government will talk to parliamentary leaders on Thursday about plans for a new military operation in Aceh.

He made the comments after Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri met with her cabinet. The government previously had set Monday as a deadline for possible military action.

A peace accord between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement has been stalled for weeks. Analysts say a resumption of hostilities is all but inevitable.

Thousands of Indonesian troops are moving into Aceh, and international peace monitors have withdrawn.

To avoid military action, the government says the rebels must accept its offer of increased autonomy for Aceh. The rebels, however, insist they have the right to push for full independence.

It is the same issue the two sides have fought over for nearly 27 years, in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

Meanwhile, Aceh rebel officer Amri bin Abdul Wahab defected to the government. Commander Amri told reporters he would like to ask his fellow rebels to return to Indonesia, and to acknowledge the unitary state of Indonesia.

It is not yet clear how the defection will affect the Free Aceh Movement, in which he was one of many mid-level commanders.