Indonesia’s Aceh Elects Ex-Rebel Governor

Posted April 17th, 2012 at 11:15 am (UTC-5)
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Officials in Indonesia say a former rebel won this month's governor's election in Aceh province — the only province in the country ruled by Islamic law.

Former rebel leader Zaini Abdullah, who once lived in exile, won nearly 56 percent of the vote in the April 9 poll. He defeated incumbent Governor Irwandi Yusuf.

Coastal Aceh was devastated in 2004 by a massive tsunami that left 170,000 locals dead or missing. The disaster in the energy-rich province forced an end to a three-decade Islamic insurgency by separatists seeking an autonomous homeland.

Abdullah, a trained medical doctor, and his running mate, Muzakir Manaf — the last commander of the now-defunct Free Aceh movement — are set to be sworn in next month.

Abdullah joined the Free Aceh movement in the late 1970s, participating for several years in the rebellion against Jakarta rule. He later sought asylum in Sweden, where he represented the movement as foreign minister-in-exile. He returned to his homeland in 2006.