Asia

Indonesia row: Aceh crowds support disputed flag

Acehnese men wave Crescent-Star flags during a rally outside Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia, Monday, April 1, 2013.
Image caption Several thousand people took part in the demonstration in Banda Aceh

A row has broken out in Indonesia after a former separatist flag was adopted as the official emblem of Aceh province.

Thousands rallied in Aceh's capital in support of the flag. Indonesia's government has given provincial authorities seven days to change it.

The crescent and star on a red and white banner was used by the now defunct Free Aceh Movement.

It fought a three-decade-long civil war against the Indonesian state until a peace deal was struck in 2005.

Local officials say that under the terms of the accord, they can choose whatever symbol they like.

Analysts say this challenge to the government is a direct test of Indonesia's commitment to the peace agreement, which came only after Aceh was devastated by the Asian tsunami of 2004, with the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.

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