-- Aceh’s provincial government has two weeks to stop using the flag of the
now-disbanded separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) army as a regional
symbol, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Friday.
still hopeful that in one or two weeks, this will be settled and there
will no longer be any disturbances regarding the issue of the flag...”
Yudhoyono said. "What is clear is that the ‘Merah-Putih’ [Indonesian
flag] has to fly across the entire country.”
The flag, which
features a crescent moon and a star on a red background, was used by the
GAM during Aceh’s decades-long battle for independence. The flag has
recently be readopted as a symbol of Aceh by order of a local bylaw.
province was granted special autonomy in 2005 as part of a peace
agreement following the 2004 tsunami. Former GAM fighters were granted
amnesty under the pact, but all GAM symbols were banned.
discussed the issue at a press conference at Merdeka Palace on Friday.
He urged Aceh administration to follow the rules of the peace agreement.
""Let us all, together with our brothers and sisters in Aceh
and their leaders, work to safeguard the Aceh settlement we have
reached,” Yudhoyono said.
Yudhoyono will summons Aceh governor and former GAM rebel Zaini Abdullah to discuss the resurgence of GAM symbols in Aceh.
will invite the Aceh governor to talk about this and how we can unite
in a synergy to develop Aceh and keep it peaceful and calm so that the
local society can develop as well,” he said. "This is what I need to
remind everyone, including our brothers and sisters in Aceh.”
Yudhoyono called the flag controversy a step backward for the province.
"I do not want to regress and do not want new problems to come up, problems are in reality not needed,” he said.