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DATE=11/9/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=INDONESIA/ ACEH / REBELS (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-255983 BYLINE=PATRICIA NUNAN DATELINE=BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid says (Tuesday) he will let the troubled northern province of Aceh secede if the people of Aceh vote for independence. The president made his comment while in the Philippines as part of a whirlwind trip through Southeast Asia. But as Patricia Nunan reports from Banda Aceh, capital of Aceh province, a separatist leader says the idea of holding a referendum is no longer relevant. TEXT: Rebel leader Teungku Abdullah Syasfei says "it doesn't matter if the government decides to hold a referendum in Aceh "because, he says, "Indonesia is going to break apart." /// SYASFEI ACT IN INDONESIAN, FADE UNDER /// "Indonesia hasn't got a future," he says, "the future for Indonesia is disintegration." Syasfei is one of 27 commanders leading the rebel free Aceh movement, a separatist group that has been fighting for statehood since the 1970's. Indonesian troops undertook a mission in 1989 to crush the rebel group, but analysts say the plan backfired. The separatists won more support because of the soldiers' tactics, which human rights officials say led to the death or disappearance of at least two- thousand people. Syasfei met with reporters in the district of Pidi, an area under his command that has seen the highest number of clashes with Indonesian troops in recent months. The commander also said, soon most Indonesians would realize it's time to break free of the shackles, he says, that have been placed on them by the central government. /// SYASFEI ACT IN INDONESIAN, FADE UNDER /// We will be the ones to help them he says, because Aceh is already independent. Despite the strong statements, the commander was unclear about the direction the free Aceh movement would take. He declined to offer an opinion about a pro-independence demonstration held Monday in which roughly six hundred thousand people gathered in the provincial capital to call for an independence vote. Syasfei also said he was not aware of an ultimatum issued by local parliamentary leaders to the central government stating that if Jakarta didn't decide within a month to hold a referendum in Aceh, the Achenese would hold one themselves. (Signed) NEB/PN/LTD/KL 09-Nov-1999 12:28 PM EDT (09-Nov-1999 1728 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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