22 Aug 2003

Aceh to seek office in Vanuatu

5:18 pm on 22 August 2003

Representatives of the people of the Indonesian province of Aceh have submitted an application to the Vanuatu government in a bid to open an office in the capital, Port Vila.

Aceh has been involved in a separatist struggle against Indonesia which this year launched a major military offensive against the Free Aceh Movement, or GAM, that has left hundreds of people dead.

The reported approach by the Acehnese has prompted the Indonesian government to warn Vanuatu that it would lodge a strong diplomatic protest if an embassy was opened.

The Vanuatu government has allowed representatives from the Indonesian province of Papua to open an office in Port Vila but it has no diplomatic status.

That move was strongly criticised by the Indonesian government.