July 11, 2005
The fifth round of talks between the Indonesian government and Acehnese rebel group GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka or Free Aceh Movement) begins July 12 in Helsinki, Finland. This round is expected to produce a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will pave the way for a final peace agreement. Hope has replaced decades of cynicism as the Indonesian government expects to conclude a peace agreement before Aug. 17, Indonesia’s independence day. A peace agreement will hopefully bring an end to a conflict that has raged for almost 30 years, claimed more than 12,000 lives, and left Aceh one of the most impoverished provinces in Indonesia.