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AFP: Aceh governor calls for federa

Subject: AFP: Aceh governor calls for federation to replace republic (fwd)

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Here is the interesting news from Indonesia. Trying for democracy is a
nobel cause but democracy without unity is another problem.  How can we
unite our country? Think about it.

with best regards

Htun Aung Gyaw

Subject: AFP: Aceh governor calls for federation to replace republic

Received from Joyo

*Indonesian governor calls for federation to replace republic

JAKARTA, Feb 5 (AFP) - The governor of Indonesia's troubled Aceh
province has called for the country to change from a republic to a
federation to cope with growing separatist pressures. 

The governor, Syamsuddin Mahmud, made the landmark call as new
deaths were reported from clashes in the northern Sumatran province
where Moslem rebels have been fighting for an Islamic state. 

Politicians and experts have also called for a review of Indonesia's
constitution since the fall of Suharto as president last year, but
Mahmud is the first government official to make such a radical call. 

The governor, who is an economist, said it was becoming increasingly
urgent for Indonesia to become a federal state to be able to
accomodate its various specific cultures, the official Antara news
agency reported. 

"Based on my observation of the country's situation in general, I
personally think the solution, which would ensure that Indonesia
remains as it has been, is a federal state," Mahmud said Thursday in

He said the province's strong Islamic nature should be reflected and
accommodated if it joined such a federal state in place of the
current unitary republic. 

Aceh has seen renewed violence in recent weeks. Fresh clashes
Wednesday between civilans and the military, in Idi Cut, East Aceh,
left at least seven people dead and several others injured. 

Police said Thursday one person was shot dead and two were wounded
as the military opened fire to disperse thousands of people
returning from a separatist meeting in Idi Cut. 

Residents in Langsa, the main town in East Aceh some 60 kilometres
east of Idi Cut, said five more bodies were found in the Arakundo
river by late Thursday.  Another 11 people were still reported
missing, residents said. 

The police said 51 people had been arrested following the clash.
Their identities were not given. 

First Sergeant Rachmat of the Langsa district police said a new
death toll would only be given later Friday. 

The Suara Karya daily said 13 bodies had been found following the
clash and gave the names of 12 of the victims, but the deaths could
not be immediately confirmed by police and local human rights

The province, a conservative Moslem bastion, is home to the Aceh
Merdeka (Free Aceh) movement which has been fighting for a free
Islamic state since the mid 1970s. 

Antagonism between the local populations and the central government
has been sharpened by alleged human rights abuses by soldiers during
more than a decade of anti-rebel operations up to last year.