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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

U.S. congressman backs SBY for Nobel Peace Prize

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize by an American congressman for his role in resolving the decades-old conflict in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.

The President also deserves the prestigious prize for his unwavering commitment to Indonesian democracy within his first year in office, Democratic congressman Robert Wexler said.

The congressman, a senior member of the House International Relations Committee and co-chairman of the Congressional Indonesia Caucus, said Susilo achieved a dramatic breakthrough by ending the 29-year-old armed conflict with the signing of a peace agreement on Aug. 15, 2005, between Jakarta and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

Wexler met Yudhoyono during a visit here last August, and said at the time the U.S. did not support any separatist movement or threat to the country's territorial integrity.

While Yudhoyono has been praised for helping push through the peace agreement, many have credited Vice President Jusuf Kalla for his contribution to the process.

On his website www.wexler.house.gov , the Florida congressman also noted that Indonesians had endured much hardship in the past year, most notably the devastating Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami which claimed the lives of more than 120,000 people in the province.

Wexler's letter to the Nobel Committee, which was posted on the website, said that despite the natural disasters and the bird flu outbreak, Yudhoyono and his administration should be "commended for remaining firmly committed to addressing the political, economic and humanitarian needs of their nation".
The President, he said, has worked to help restore rights to the Acehnese -- from human and political rights to representation in governance -- and showed that he is a true reformer and campaigner for peace.

Presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng said the President and his administration welcomed the nomination. "We don't work to get a Nobel or any other prize. But we'd be very delighted with any appreciation of our work," Andi told Antara news service.

Presented annually since 1901, the Nobel Prize is given to outstanding achievements in peace, literature, medicine, physiology, chemistry and physics.
The laureates for the Peace Prize are selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which comprises five members appointed by the Norwegian parliament, and the lists are usually announced in mid-October each year.
Last year's Peace Prize was split between the Austrian-based International Atomic Energy Agency and its director general, Egyptian Mohamed El Baradei.

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
February 01, 2006

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