Jakarta says Aceh action 'imminent'
Indonesia will take military action against separatist rebels in the western province of Aceh, and is now merely deciding when operations will be carried out, the country’s security minister has declared. The announcement by Bambang Yudhoyono followed the passing of a deadline set by Jakarta for the Free Aceh Movement (Gam) to agree to lay down its arms, abandon its demand for independence, and accept autonomy instead. The Indonesian military chief, General Endriarto Sutarto, said the planned operation would not be affected by an announcement by a senior commander of Gam later on Tuesday that he was defecting to the country’s army. Commander Amri Bin Abdul Wahad announced his surprise decision at a news conference in Jakarta, saying he had concluded that Aceh did not have the international support needed to gain independence. Gam leaders in the Aceh claimed that he had been kidnapped and coerced into defecting, whilst a BBC correspondent in the province, Orlando de Guzman, said that it was another sign that military action was looming. Mr Yudhoyono has told reporters that a decree explaining when military operations would begin in Aceh would be announced by President Megawati Sukarnoputri in the “next few days”. Full Story