From Politics to Arms to Politics Again: The Transition of the Gerakan Acheh Merdeka (Free Aceh Movement – GAM)

The present peace agreement reached by GAM and the government of Indonesia has brought major changes to the political landscape in the Province of Aceh, transforming GAM from being an armed group to becoming a non-armed poltical movement which has to compete in a regular electoral process. This paper looks at the character of the GAM movement, how it was drawn into the armed struggle, the factors and events that affected its adoption of a political strategy, and the present outcome of its transition. It was co-written by an Acehnese scholar and a German researcher, based on contributions made by two leading GAM members during the course of several focus group discussions.