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Home >> World
UPDATED: 18:25, August 15, 2005
Aceh people watch historic signing of peace agreement
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Tens of thousands of Aceh people gathered at the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque on Monday in Jakarta for a mass prayer and to witness through live TV broadcast the signing of a historic peace pact in Helsinki, capital of Finland.

Giant screens have been installed in the mosque on Sunday so that people can witness the signing ceremony through live TV broadcast Monday afternoon, Antara news agency reported.

Mahmud Rifai, 43, arrived at the mosque by traveling more than three hours from Aceh's Ulee Kareng district with his wife and neighbors, said the report.

"What else can we do? This is the only way myself and my family and my friends can contribute to the peace. We are here to pray for peace to come to Aceh," Rifaiwas was quoted as saying.

Among those ready to witness the signing ceremony were Peter Feith, the Dutch head of a European Union monitoring mission which will oversee the pact's implementation, and British Ambassador to Indonesia Charles Humphrey.

The Indonesian government signed the peace accord with representatives of the Free Aceh movement (GAM) in Helsinki Monday afternoon.

The GAM rebels gave up their long-held demand for independence and agreed to give up their weapons. In return, the government has offered them amnesty, economic compensation and, most importantly, the right to political representation.

The clashes between the government troops and rebels in past three decades have claimed 15,000 lives in Aceh, most of them civilians.

Source: Xinhua

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