Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP, Minister for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

  Thank you for the Explanatory Memorandum dated 9 February 2006 which was cleared in the Chairman's sift on 14 February.

  We would like to commend the EU for the way in which this Mission has been conducted to date and consider that the proposed extension is fully justified. We ask to see any future report assessing the operation of the Mission as and when it is produced.

16 February 2006

Letter from Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP, Minister for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman

  Further to the FCO's Explanatory Memorandum of 18 May on the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM), Jimmy Hood's Committee asked for clarification on why the election timetable had slipped.

  Overall, implementation of the peace agreement has continued to progress well. Reintegration of former Free Aceh Movement (GAM) fighters is continuing, the outstanding amnesty cases are being resolved, and the number of security and human rights incidents in Aceh has dropped. In May, GAM announced that it was relaunching as a civilian political movement.

  However, a new Law on Governing Aceh (LoGA), mandated in the peace agreement, needs to be passed through the national parliament in Jakarta before the local elections can take place (its provisions cover how the election will be run), This is necessary to fulfil some of the terms of the peace agreement—in particular, the clause on local political participation. Under the peace agreement, the LoGA should have been passed by 31 March 2006. The delay came about because the draft bill, presented to Parliament on 31 January by the Indonesian government, is still under discussion by the relevant parliamentary committee.

  At this stage, we do not judge that the delay is a significant setback to overall implementation of the MoU. The bill is progressing through the parliamentary system. The Indonesian government has pledged to urge the legislature to take the draft law forward quickly once it reaches plenary session. Thus far the GAM leadership has not made an issue of the delayed timetable.

  Under these circumstances we support this short extension to the AMM. Its presence is helping provide confidence to both sides during this crucial period and premature withdrawal could prove detrimental.

  May I add that in the Explanatory Memorandum we stated that the AMM would be reduced on extension from around 200 to 85 EU and ASEAN country monitors. In fact, the number of monitors was reduced on 15 March, to 88 (the current total).

21 June 2006

Letter from Rt Hon Ian McCartney MP, Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs, Department of Trade and Industry, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

  Geoff Hoon wrote to you on 21 June to explain the background to our decision to support the extension of the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) until mid-September, to allow it to remain in place during the run-up to local elections.

  On 11 July, the Law on Governing Aceh (LoGA) was passed by the Indonesian parliament. Although the final text was not entirely consistent with the terms of the peace agreement in certain areas, replacing references to the need for the "consent" of Acehnese government with the alternative formula of "consultation and consideration", the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) has agreed to consider the text carefully, and pledged not to return to armed conflict. Consultation is likely to continue for some time, including over the local regulations which will determine the detail of how the legislation is implemented. So far the signs are that this issue will not derail the peace process.

  Now that the legislation has been passed, preparations for Acehnese local elections can proceed. The government has said that this will take 120 days at least. As this takes us past the beginning of Ramadan, the elections are now likely to take place in November.

  As a consequence, the Indonesian government has now requested a further extension to the AMM to continue to support stability in the province and to facilitate contacts between the government and GAM in the pre-election period. This is supported by GAM.

  It is likely that a decision on this will be taken by the EU at the September GAERC. I shall confirm whether this will be the case once a text of the Joint Action is available and after the Presidency has indicated its intended schedule. The EU and ASEAN contributing countries are likely to agree to an extension with a narrower mandate.

  The extended AMM will operate in parallel with an EU election observer mission (EOM), and it will be focused on resolving any tensions which arise in the run-up to the elections—something which the EU EOM would not have a mandate to do. The mission will also be further slimmed down, probably leaving a small team in the headquarters in Banda Aceh, and two district offices, one on the west coast and one in the east. Mobile monitoring teams will cover other parts of the province.

  We support this. It is a tribute to the success of the AMM and reflects well on the EU. It is important to see the peace process through in Aceh, and to provide support through the potentially difficult pre-election period. We have impressed upon the Indonesians the importance of ensuring that the elections take place as promised in November.

  As soon as a text for the proposed Joint Action becomes available, I shall ensure this is forwarded to your Committee with an Explanatory Memorandum in the usual way.

7 August 2006

Letter from Rt Hon Ian McCartney MP to the Chairman

  Following my letter of 7 August, I am writing to let the Committee know of plans to extend the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) until 15 December 2006. This extension has been requested by the Indonesian government, and supported by the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), to allow the mission to cover the period of time until the local elections in Aceh. This will be the final extension of the mission—the election date has been confirmed as 11 December.

  The AMM's current mandate expires on 15 September, and a decision on its extension will need to be taken at the September GAERC, before parliament resumes. This will unfortunately mean that there is not enough time for your Committee to scrutinise the decision. I hope therefore the Committee will understand if I agree the decision before scrutiny.

4 September 2006

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