From Rebels to Rulers and Legislators: The Political Transformation of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in Indonesia

Gunnar Stange, Roman Patock


On 15 August 2005, when the Republic of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM) signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Helsinki, Finland, it was considered yet another uncertain attempt at putting an end to Indonesia’s thirty years of conflict in its westernmost province, Aceh. After a historically unprecedented reconstruction process that followed the tsunami of December 2004 and two orderly elections in 2006/2007 and 2009, Aceh’s peace process is not only still on track, but widely considered a role model for ending protracted civil wars by means of political participation and autonomy regulations. This article reviews past developments that have led to the reconfiguration of Aceh’s political landscape and seeks to illustrate the most recent developments in GAM’s transformation from an independence movement to an Indonesian local political party.

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