The Archipelago

Former GAM combatants consolidate
for Aceh poll

Former combatants of the now-defunct Aceh Free Movement (GAM) reportedly held a meeting to consolidate their campaign to push Zaini Abdullah and Muzakir Manaf into the province’s top post.

Zaini and Muzakir are among seven pairs of candidates for the Aceh gubernatorial election to be held on April 9.

The pair has been nominated by the Aceh Party (PA), a local political party founded by the former GAM combatants.

“During the consolidation meeting, we talked about our strategy on how to win the election. We consolidated among former combatants at the grassroots level in villages across Aceh,” Abu Radak, who heads the party’s campaign team, said on Sunday.

The meeting was reported to have been attended by 200 leaders from the Aceh Transitional Committee (KPA) and party cadres from across Aceh.

The KPA and the Aceh Party, according to Radak, would form a synergy to support their candidates’ victory by targeting to recruit 1 million campaigners.

“We have opened registration for the 1 million voters’ campaign. We believe with a million voters, our candidates will obtain victory with at least 60 percent of the vote,” he said.

The fraying political rivalries have prompted several delays in the election, with the last move pushing the date from Feb. 16 to April 9.

The Aceh Party, which won the last election, threatened to boycott the election if the Independent Election Commission (KIP) Aceh did not yield to their demand for postponement. The Constitutional Court (MK) ruled that KIP should allow additional time for candidate registration and that the election should be rescheduled.

According to Radak, the MK’s ruling was fair to the conflicting parties.

“We appreciate the MK’s decision and hope that all parties abide by it so that the election can go smoothly and peace in Aceh can be restored for good,” he said.

KPA is an organization founded by former GAM combatants after the memorandum of understanding was signed by GAM representatives and Indonesian government in Helsinki, Finland, in 2005. The committee has been tasked with reintegrating former combatants back into society.

The committee has become a main engine of Aceh Party, which claims to enjoy support from 17 national parties and another local party for the upcoming election.

“The KPA and the Aceh Party are like opposite sides of a coin, which are different but are in one. They are inseparable and supportive of each other for an indefinite time,” Aceh Party’s spokesperson Fachrulrazi said.

KPA coordinator Darwis Jeunib did not rule out the possibility of some committee member supporting the incumbent governor, Irwandi Yusuf.

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