The Indonesian Defense Force (TNI) began to withdraw some of its non-organic troops from Aceh, following the handing over of Free Aceh Movement (GAM)'s weapons in the past three days, a military spokesman has confirmed.
"The measure is a part of the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding the government and GAM signed in Helsinki," Col Ahmad Yani Basuki, head of the TNI headquarters information center said on Sunday.
The TNI had withdrawn a total of 796 infantry battalion-125 and Bukit Barisan artillery company personnel on Saturday. The TNI will also withdraw four battalions on Sept. 20, one battalion on Sept. 21 and another battalion and two companies on Sept. 23, Antara news agency quoted Yani as reporting on Monday.
The first phase of the pullout will be completed on September 25 when three battalions will be withdrawn, he added.
Under the MOU signed by the government and GAM in Helsinki on Aug. 15, the TNI is required to withdraw its non-organic troops from the province after GAM handed over 25 percent of its 840 weapons.
"The TNI has deployed 41,000 soldiers during the restoration operations in Aceh," Yani added.
He also said that TNI was committed to supporting the implementation of the peace deal and had reduced its forces prior to Sept. 15 as part of the TNI's pullout in line with the number of GAM weapons being destroyed.
Under the peace deal, the Aceh Monitoring Miaaion (AMM) comprises approximately 200 unarmed personnel and is tasked with monitoring the mobilization of 3,000 GAM military personnel, decommissioning 840 GAM weapons, and observing the relocation of non-Acehnese military and police personnel.
The decommissioning of GAM arms would take place in four stages in 10 different locations including Banda Aceh, Bireuen, Lhokseumawe, Meulaboh, Sigli, Langsa and Tapak Tuan, starting on Sept. 15 and scheduled for completion on Dec. 31 this year.
At the same time, the TNI and police would have their non-organic personnel pulled out.
The AMM comprises officials from the European Union and five contributing ASEAN countries -- Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
(Xinhua News Agency September 19, 2005)