On December 23, 2003, the Indonesian government gave access to five un organisations -- the International Red Cross, the unesco, the unicef, the undp and the World Food Programme -- access to the province of Aceh. This is a complete turnaround from its earlier posture of banning foreign organisations from channeling aids after the government decided to impose military emergency status in the province on May 19, 2003. According to Indonesian coordinating minister for political affairs and security, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the move indicates the "transparency and accountability of the government in settling the Aceh problem".
But there are those who read a sinister motive. The move, they allege, is to soften the blow of the government's military presence in the oil-and-gas rich province; martial law is but another form of control over its natural resources. In the province, there is a widespread perception that the Acehnese have not benefited from the province's enormous natural wealth and that industrial development projects have been introduced merely to provide employment opportunities to outsiders, especially from Java.
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