Headlines

Aceh governor installation
marred by attack

Grenade attack: A police officer inspects the home of Zakaria Saman, a former guerrilla leader of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), in Pineung, Banda Aceh on Monday. An unidentified person tossed a hand grenade into the house as Aceh’s governor and deputy governor, both former GAM leaders, were inaugurated in Banda Aceh on Monday. Antara/Irwansyah Putra

Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi on Monday swore in new Aceh governor and vice governor Zaini Abdullah and Muzakir Manaf, both former leaders of the now defunct Aceh Freedom Movement (GAM) who garnered the most ballots in the gubernatorial election on April 9 this year.

The swearing-in ceremony was held at the Aceh legislative council and was attended by thousands of members from the Aceh Party, which nominated the pair, including a number of Cabinet ministers and foreign envoys.

“I have sworn in dozens of governors during my tenure, but this time the ceremony was attended by many representatives from foreign countries,” said Gamawan.

Although the ceremony proceeded peacefully, it was marred by an assault against former Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf, who was seeking reelection in the gubernatorial election.

Irwandi was reportedly beaten after the ceremony by members of the Aceh Party security task force who were outside the building.

“I was assaulted as I exited the building. Scores of people were cursing me and I was later beaten,” said Irwandi.

Irwandi was at one point protected by police personnel from members of the crowd who were trying to hit him. He suffered wounds on his face and swelling on the back of his head.

“I will report the case to authorities and seek justice,” said Irwandi.

After he was saved by police personnel, Irwandi was immediately rushed to the Zainal Abidin Hospital to be examined.

According to Gamawan, it was the first time that an Aceh gubernatorial inauguration had received such attention from foreign countries.

“Thank you to all friendly nations who have given attention and helped Aceh during the peace and reconstruction process,” said Gamawan.

Gamawan expressed hope that the peace and reconstruction process would be maintained and enhanced in the hands of the new governor for the sake of Aceh’s future.

Gamawan also entrusted Zaini, 72 (the former GAM foreign minister in exile in Sweden before the signing of the Indonesian government-GAM peace agreement in Helsinki, in 2005) and Muzakir, 48, (the former commander of GAM’s Armed Wing) to foster positive communications with various groups, especially the legislative body.

“An unfavorable relationship would have impacts on budgetary discussions,” Gamawan said.

At least 5,000 police personnel were deployed to secure the inauguration of Zaini and Muzakir.

The personnel were stationed at key locations, including the inauguration stage and the inauguration building.

They were also placed around the city to ensure the steady flow of traffic in Banda Aceh.

Apart from the incident, a grenade attack also took place at the house of GAM leader Zakaria Saman in the early hours of Monday. However, no casualties were reported.

According to Zakaria, the attack took place as all tenants were asleep. Police have gathered evidence in the form of grenade shrapnel.

“I have never received threats before because I have just arrived in Banda Aceh,” said Zakaria.

Police are currently conducting their investigation on the terror act against the GAM leader.

“According to accounts from family members, the grenade was thrown from a motorcycle by the perpetrators. They immediately fled after tossing the grenade,” Banda Aceh City Police chief Sr. Comr. Moffan.

The victim’s house was severely damaged, as was a car parked in the garage.

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