Fri, 24 Jan 2003

GAM and elections

The Jakarta Post reported on page three of its Jan. 11 edition a statement from the Indonesian chief negotiator, Wiryono Sastrohandoyo, who is a seasoned and very experienced diplomat.

Wiryono said: "The government should allow GAM to join the elections and it needs to find a way to enable GAM to participate in the political process."

As a non-diplomat and non-politician, it is very difficult for me to understand the reasoning behind this statement. First of all, GAM is an illegal organization, which has been fighting to gain independence for the Acehnese and separation from the Republic.

Can an organization, which is against the 1945 Constitution, have the right to participate in a legal political process? Wiryono should know that answer! Legal political parties hoping to participate in the general election have to register at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights and should have representative offices in a predetermined percentage of the provinces. They should also comply with all kinds of regulations.

In the reform era, we have 148 registered political parties, but only 48 are qualified to participate in the elections. For the next election in 2004 Indonesia has 237 registered political parties. And all those recognized parties are loyal to the 1945 Constitution.

If Wiryono said that the government needs to find ways to allow former members of GAM to participate in the general election after they swear allegiance to the unitary republic of Indonesia, proclaimed on Aug. 17, 1945, then this is a matter that can be taken into consideration.