Analysts and a former rebel in Aceh fear there could be renewed conflict as lawmakers in Jakarta debate whether to divide the once war-torn region into smaller provinces. Under a plan raised for discussion by the Indonesian parliament in January, some districts, mostly in the central highlands would be rearranged into two new provinces - Aceh Leuser Antara and Aceh Barat Selatan. The districts are among the least developed of Aceh, itself one of Indonesia's poorest provinces. The highlands were not affected by the tsunami and have largely been ignored by the worldwide generosity that is rebuilding Aceh and has led to a degree of prosperity in districts hit by the waves. The disparity has created jealousy in the highlands, where unemployment remains high, poverty is widespread and the wounds of war remain unhealed. A rearrangement of these districts into new provincial areas could attract more central government funding and political power for new elected officials. Some 400 highland village heads spent a few days in Jakarta last week, lobbying lawmakers to push through the provincial plan. The trip was the latest high-profile activity in a series that has included public rallies and Iwan Gayo, one of the heads of the movement, calling on his followers to sign a petition with blood. Gambit, 36, Meulaboh deputy commander of the former rebel group, the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), says that the move could plunge Aceh back into conflict. 'We fought for one Aceh, not for several. The move to separate the province must be backed by the Indonesian military or the militia.' GAM fought a 30-year guerilla war for independence and eventually settled for autonomy when the tsunami struck and humbled the political stances of both the rebel group and the central government. During the war, the highlands saw the emergence of civilian militias that sided with Jakarta, received financial and military aid from the Indonesian military, and fought the GAM. There were signs of a resurgence in old tensions recently, when a dispute over the control of a bus terminal in the Central Aceh capital of Takengon led to five members of the GAM being set alight and killed, and another thrown down a well by a mob of alleged members of the former pro-Jakarta militia Defenders of the Homeland. Moreover, the highlands are also home to ethnic minorities, such as the Gayo, who are now itching for more recognition. In Banda Aceh, social scientist Tarmizi, director of Aceh People's Forum, said he was very concerned about the development. 'The Gayo people want a separate judicial area where they can focus on the group's needs.' Like many Indonesians, he has only one name. However, Humam Hamid, chairman of the Aceh Recovery Forum, stressed that the move to establish separate provinces was not being led by the people but by an elite group interested in gaining political power and more funds. The establishment of new provinces would imply the election of new provincial governors. 'But even so, we must not ignore and neglect the discontent of the people in the highlands,' he said. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently authorised the home affairs minister to proceed with talks on the issue, although he had vowed to suspend the controversial practice of creating new administrative regions, pending a review. The two proposed provinces in Aceh are among seven proposed new provinces across Indonesia that were included in a bill unanimously approved for discussion by parliament in January. Strong suspicions exist that legislators received bribes from local elites who would stand to benefit from the creation of new provinces or districts. Under Indonesia's decentralisation process, each new province qualifies for a large amount of central government funds. Moreover, in Aceh, the proposed new provinces would also control part of the province's lucrative natural resources.