Stuck in the middle - Aceh's international peacekeepers
At its red-roofed office inside Banda Aceh's university campus, the international monitoring team tasked with overseeing Aceh's bid for peace is taking shape.
Fresh turf is being laid on the lawn and air-conditioning units installed for the monitors, who sport white polo shirts and matching baseball caps.
Staffed by 250 civilian and military officials from Europe and Southeast Asia, the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) is a bold attempt at peacemaking that hinges on both sides sticking to the rules laid down in last month's peace accord.
It marks the first time the European Union, which has run peacekeeping operations in the Balkans, has entered a conflict in Asia.
But unlike other EU missions, the operation in Aceh is unarmed and has no policing powers. Nor can it step in to broker negotiations between the two sides if the agreement breaks down, although it can arbitrate on specific disputes.
According to AMM officials, the early signs are positive.
Acehnese rebels are surrendering their weapons and Jakarta is pulling out its troops, leaving behind 14,700 Aceh-raised soldiers and 9,100 local police.
An accord signed on August 15 in Finland provides an amnesty to separatist rebels in return for laying down the 840 weapons it has declared, disbanding and accepting autonomy within Indonesia.
Concerns over possible ceasefire violations by the two sides, which have fought since 1976 to control the resource-rich province, have not materialised, say the AMM officials.
The last truce in Aceh collapsed in 2003 as both sides cried foul, and Indonesia responded by arresting rebel negotiators and declaring martial law. The return to fighting came despite the presence of a foreign monitoring team in Aceh.
Lieutenant-General Nipat Thonglek, deputy head of the AMM, says the two warring sides have learned from the past failure and are now much more eager to play their part.
'Trust must come first and foremost. It was difficult during the [2003 truce]. We have more trust now, and we've made a good start,' said the Thai general.
The first tangible sign of progress for war-weary Acehnese came at last week's handover of 226 weapons by the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).
General Nipat said AMM's decommissioning team was busy arranging more weapon handovers as it works to meet the year-end deadline set in the August pact.
He praised GAM's political leaders and military commanders for keeping a tight rein on their troops.
'They are very disciplined, we have to admit that,' he said.
What is less clear is the strength of anti-GAM fervour among nationalist self-defence groups in Aceh that are allegedly backed by Indonesia's army. GAM officials warn that military hawks opposed to peace could foment fighting to undo the ceasefire, giving Jakarta an excuse to crack down again.
Observers say that while these groups may not be a threat on the scale of the pro-Jakarta militia that terrorised East Timor in 1999, many are armed and need to be watched. General Nipat said the monitors have no power to compel such groups to surrender their weapons, adding that it was a problem for Jakarta to solve.
'Frankly speaking, there might be some of these armed groups ... and we must monitor them, and the government of Indonesia must do something. We consider them a social problem,' he said.
The presence of international monitors in Aceh has already upset some nationalist politicians outside the province who bristle at any interference in Indonesia's affairs.
Independence-minded Acehnese, though, have long supported the presence of an international force, arguing that Indonesia's military cannot be trusted to oversee any peace deal.
Mohamad Nazar, a former political prisoner released last month, said the AMM must not be swayed by bumps in the road. 'They've begun the process and they have to maintain it.'
General Nipat said security forces were keeping their side of the bargain by withdrawing non-local troops.