Elected Aceh Governor Vows To Implement ‘Purer” Sharia

Aceh gubernatorial candidate from Aceh Party gestures during interview in Banda Aceh, Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - NURDIN HASAN PHOTO
Banda Aceh, TAG – Indonesia’s Aceh province Tuesday elected a former rebel as governor, who vowed to implement a “purer” form of sharia in what is the country’s only region to practice the Islamic law.

The election was seen as a test of Aceh’s fragile peace following a 30-year guerillas war that ended in 2005, and a devastating tsunami that destroyed entire towns in 2004.
The powerful Aceh Party’s Zaini Abdullah — the former “foreign minister” of the defunct rebel Free Aceh Movement (GAM) government in exile in Sweden — beat four other candidates in a landslide victory in the largely autonomous province.
“The candidate pair Zaini Abdullah and Muzakir Manaf... will serve as governor and vice governor for the period 2012 to 2017,” Aceh electoral commission head Abdul Salam Poroh announced.
Zaini won with 1.3 million votes, more than 55 percent, while his main rival, incumbent and independent candidate Irwandi Yusuf, came second with around 30 percent.
Zaini is credited as a key negotiator in a 2005 agreement with the central government that granted special autonomy to Aceh, which sits on the northern tip of Sumatra island.
The Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding, in which the rebels agreed to lay down arms, put an end to 30 years of bloody unrest in which more than 25,000 people died, mostly civilians and gave Aceh the freedom to implement sharia laws.
Zaini, 72, said he was “deeply moved” to have been elected, vowing to eradicate corruption in government, and boost the local the economy by developing the agriculture and fisheries industries.
He also said he would seek to pass a new bill to implement “purer” sharia laws based on the Quran and al-Hadist, which are not in force anywhere else in Indonesia, where the vast majority practice moderate Islam.
“We will meet with ulema and discuss a new sharia bill that can be accepted by all Acehnese,” he said. “Sharia is about how to educate our youths about what is right and wrong.”
The vote on April 9 came after months of political maneuvering by Zaini and his party, which tried to see independents like Irwandi disqualified from running.
Irwandi’s campaign team accused the Aceh Party of intimidating voters to back Zaini by using threats of violence and kidnappings, allegations the party denies.
Around 200 Aceh Party supporters at parliament house cheered upon hearing of Zaini’s victory, yelling “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”) and “Long live Zaini Zaini”.
Zaini quickly rose to the top ranks of the rebel group while working as a doctor a when GAM was formed in 1976 by the late Tengku Hasan Ditiro.
But the central government eventually named him a wanted man and he fled to the jungle, moving to Sweden in 1981, where he lived in exile for 24 years.
Zaini’s win boosts the power of the Aceh Party, which already dominates parliament.
Sporadic politically-motivated violence continues in the restive province, with more than a dozen fatal shootings in the six months ahead of the election.
The 2005 agreement between Jakarta and the rebels was also made in the spirit of rebuilding Aceh after the devastating tsunami in 2004 killed 170,000 in Indonesia, the vast majority in Aceh.[]
Elected Aceh Governor Vows To Implement ‘Purer” Sharia Elected Aceh Governor Vows To Implement ‘Purer” Sharia Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on April 17, 2012 Rating: 5

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