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Indonesia: Aceh holds second election since 2005 peace deal

Concerns of further bloodshed as election officials note 57 cases of violence and intimidation in the lead-up to the vote.

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An Acehnese woman votes during the province's second election in Banda Aceh on Apr. 9, 2012 (Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images)

The Indonesian province of Aceh is holding elections for only the second time since the 2005 peal deal that ended decades of conflict.

The BBC reports that five candidates, including the incumbent Irwandi Yusuf,  are competing for the post of Governor, while dozens of others are running for 17 positions as district heads and deputies.

Its adds that the lead-up to the elections has been marked by outbreaks of violence, fuelled mainly by supporters of Yusuf and his main challenger Zaini Abdullah of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

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The Jakarta Post names the other candidates as the prominent ulema (Muslim legal scholar) Abu Lampisang; the Aceh University Syiah Kuala rector Darni Daud; and former deputy governor Muhammad Nazar.

It quoted the National Human Rights Commission chairman Ifdhal Kasim as saying that the elections are being seen as a "turning point" for Aceh, which was devastated by the 2004 Tsunami and has been working to recover from its 30 year separatist war against Indonesian rule.

However, AFP reports that the Aceh elections supervisory committee chairman Nyak Arief Fadhillah Syah had noted 57 cases of violence and intimidation in the run-up to the poll, quoting him as saying: "The potential for corruption is enormous, because of the possibility of terror and intimidation... to ensure victory for a particular candidate".

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Aceh is the only Indonesian province ruled by Shariah law, the Jakarta Globe explains, and says that Monday's poll will also show whether voters want leaders who advocate more conservative Muslim views.

Results are expected by April 15, and candidates must garner more than 30 percent of the vote for an outright win.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/indonesia/120409/indonesia-aceh-holds-second-election-2005-peace-