December 13, 2006 Asia Pacific
extended a hand to a former rebel leader set to become the first governor
of Aceh province. Unofficial results after this week's landmark local
elections show Irwandi Yusuf, the former spokesman of the separatist Free
Aceh Movement likely to secure a landslide victory for the post of
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Presenter/Interviewer: Katie Hamann
Speakers: Sidney Jones, Indonesia Director International Crisis
Group; Irwandi Yusuf, Aceh's incoming governor; Aceh students
HAMANN: As if sensing the gravity of Aceh's unfolding destiny, usually
bleary eyed journalists, international observors and NGO workers bounced
from their beds yesterday morning. The night before they had witnessed the
power of Aceh's collective voice, with a sample poll revealing that
Irwandi Yusef, a former Free Aceh Movement rebel and one time prison of
the state would likely be the provinces first democratically elected
Amdist the clamour International Crisis Group's Sidney Jones explained the
significance of the result.
JONES: We've had a transformation of Aceh in the last 24 hours and I think
we're going to see change in Aceh in a way that hasn't been possible for
three decades. I think it means as well that Acehnese are basically tired
of the same old political elite that has been in control for a long time
and I think we may see different policies, we may see GAM in positions of
power trying to push the envelope and change the relationship with Jakarta
and it's going to be very interesting to see what Jakarta's reaction is.
It will also mean for example that Jakarta may get very nervous about
allowing independent candidates elsewhere if there were pressured for
example to do that in Papua, or South Sulawesi.
HAMANN: For many yesterday's vote confirmed the often ambiguous breadth of
GAM's civilian support. Accounting for the votes of runner-up Humum Hamid
and his running mate Hasbi Abdullah the quick vote count gave GAM
affliates more than fifty percent of the total ballot. In Banda Aceh city
the shock result was met with both jubilation and nervous encouragement:
STUDENT: I think if they can change the Acehese lives and make our lives
better and far away from the war. Because Irwandi is unpredictable so we
do not choose him exactly but the fact that he's won. Irwandi has the
support of GAM.
HAMANNL Why are you a little bit worried?
STUDENT: Because we're scared that he will change the politics in Aceh.
HAMANN:Speaking at a press conference yesterday morning Irwandi Yusef
acknowleged the burden of expectation he faces and said he would learn
from mistakes made in East Timor in recent years: