Mon, 14 Jul 2003

Peaceful gubernatorial election may end Maluku emergency status

The Jakarta Post, Ambon, Maluku

National Police Chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar said on Sunday the plan to lift the civil emergency in Maluku depended on security during and after the August gubernatorial election in the province.

If the gubernatorial election runs peacefully, the planned revocation of the status could materialize, he said in the Maluku capital of Ambon.

The government imposed a civil emergency in 2000 following bloody ethnic clashes that have claimed thousands of lives.

"The lifting of the status is for the central government to decide. If the upcoming gubernatorial election proceeds smoothly and peacefully, the provincial administration can resume normally, and local people are ready to rebuild what has been destroyed, I think the central government will take it all into consideration," he said.

The Maluku Legislative Council is scheduled to elect a new governor and deputy governor on Aug. 14.

Da'i also ordered the recovery of around 300 rifles seized from a warehouse of the Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) in Ambon during a riot on June 26, 2000.

"The situation in Ambon is improving and it is therefore crucial that the stolen weapons be found," he said as quoted by Antara.

Da'i stressed that finding the weapons would be part of the overall efforts to restore peace and order in the province.

Maluku Police chief Brig. Gen. Bambang Sutrisno meanwhile said while security had improved significantly, the refugees remained a big problem in the province.

"The biggest problem is how to return the refugees to their homes," said Bambang.