Fri, 03 Mar 2000

Abdullah to lead special Aceh team

JAKARTA (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid disclosed on Thursday his plan to appoint former politician Abdullah Puteh to head a government special team to resolve the Aceh issue.

Speaking in a meeting with a group of visiting Dutch businessmen here, the President praised Abdullah as a hard worker whose integrity was trusted by Aceh people.

The President was confident his choice could be accepted by all parties in the conflict.

"You know that he is a good worker, and more importantly he is trusted by all sides in Aceh," Abdurrahman remarked.

"You know Acehnese outside Aceh itself are seen by those people in the province as traitors. But you never hear Abdullah Puteh's name being mentioned among them," Abdurrahman said of his reason to promote Abdullah.

Abdullah, a native Acehnese, is a former chairman of the Indonesian National Youth Committee (KNPI) and member of the House of Representatives (DPR) representing the Golkar faction.

He was born in Meunasah Arun, East Aceh on July 4 1948.

According to Abdurrahman, he decided to ask Abdullah to head the team when visiting U.S. Under State Secretary Thomas Pickering asked him to appoint an official to head the government's efforts to end the conflict in the province.

The President also disclosed that Pickering conveyed a list of ideas to resolve the Aceh issue from State Secretary Madeleine Albright as follow up to Abdurrahman's meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton in November.

"There are fresh ideas on how to deal with the problems of Aceh. There are items that we can use, that we can implement in Indonesia," the President said without elaborating. (prb)