Tue, 16 Dec 2003

Hand tractors for Poso farmers

PALU, Central Sulawesi: Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Jusuf Kalla gave on Monday 100 hand tractors worth Rp 1.5 billion (US$176,470) in assistance for young farmers in the conflict-ridden regency of Poso, Central Sulawesi.

The aid was aimed at helping employ people and thus ending violence that has continued sporadically in Poso despite a December 2001 peace deal.

Kalla told the working group (Pokja) of the peace agreement, including the Central Sulawesi governor, that the aid would be expected to quickly strengthen the economy of people in Poso, so as to restore peace and security in Poso.

The minister also added that he believed local people did not want to be provoked to create renewed disturbances, despite recent attacks that have killed at least 20 people since October.

"Thank God, the people of Poso have resisted these provocations," Kalla said.

Meanwhile, Commission B chairman of the Central Sulawesi legislature Firman Maranua asked the central government to also consider helping Poso fishermen.

The government should provide them with fishing boats, he added. --JP