Combatants to Contractors: The Political Economy of Peace In Aceh
The article studies the ways in which former Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM) guerillas have, since the 2005 Helsinki peace deal, become centrally involved in Aceh’s economy and politics, with many of them achieving dramatic success as construction contractors. Showing how former combatants have used their powers of intimidation and political influence to achieve this success, the article throws light on the predatory arrangements that underpin peacebuilding in Aceh, and on broader patterns of political economy that occur in Indonesia’s provinces. In post-Suharto Indonesia, construction is often a dominant part of local economies, construction projects are a major focus of collusive and predatory behavior, and kontraktor (contractors) are prominent not only in business but also in politics. The case of Aceh presents a striking illustration of how politics, coercion, and corruption infuse Indonesia’s construction sector.
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