Thu, 27 May 2004

Jakarta to diminish Puteh's power

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, Jakarta

Despite earlier assurances that the governor of Nanggroe Aceh Darrussalam would remain in charge of the civil emergency administration, a presidential instruction to be issued on Thursday will effectively curtail his powers.

Interim coordinating minister of political and security affairs Hari Sabarno reiterated on Wednesday that Jakarta would directly supervise the integrated operation in Aceh, and that it had no plan to withdraw soldiers from the province.

Hari himself, who is also the home minister, will lead the government teams overseeing the "integrated operation", that encompasses the tasks of resuming security, law enforcement, improving the administration, humanitarian aid and economic recovery.

"The civil emergency in Aceh would be supervised directly by a body led by the president.

"The body would make policies to be implemented by the governor as the head of the civil emergency administration, assisted by the local police chief and the chief of the local prosecutor's office," he said after a meeting at the ministry.

He had said earlier that the governor would be "politically" in charge while being "assisted" by a team from Jakarta.

In comparison, Governor Karel Albert Ralahalu was seen to hold authority over Maluku province when it was under civil emergency from mid 2000 to last October.

The different treatment for Aceh, where 12 months of martial law ended on May 19, is believed to be related to the corruption charges filed against Governor Abdullah Puteh. An investigation into corruption charges against the Governor is just about to begin although activists in Aceh have long offered their findings in connection with the corruption charges.

The Wednesday meeting was held to draft a presidential instruction, based on an earlier presidential decree on the civil emergency in Aceh, effective on May 20.

Present at the meeting were National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar and National Intelligence Body chief AM Hendropriyono.

Hari said Jakarta would deploy two special teams to assist the implementation of civil emergency in Aceh.

Each aspect of the "integrated operation" would be led by a Cabinet minister, all of whom would be accountable to the coordinating minister of political and security affairs.

The security operation is to be led by Indonesia Military (TNI) chief Gen. Endriartono Soetarto, and economic recovery is to be led by Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti.

"The teams are responsible for controlling the operations and the disbursement of funding for the operations," Hari asserted.

Any decision made by the governor should have the approval of both the local police chief and the head of the local prosecutor's office as well as inputs from the government teams, Hari said.

According to Law No. 23/1959 on civil emergency, in an area under civil emergency the governor or regent is authorized to make decisions or regulations to maintain order in his territory.

He is given the authority to order the police or prosecutors to investigate, raid and seize property, to ban public gatherings, to impose a curfew, a media blackout and to order the tapping of telephone and radio communications.