Indonesia: Martial law looms over Indonesia's riot-torn Maluku
President Megawati Sukarnoputri has said a military emergency, which would grant authorities extraordinary powers to restore security, could be imposed in Maluku if conditions deteriorated, top security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said late on Monday.
"The government is of the opinion, and the president also gave her own opinion, that a state of military emergency can be imposed if the situation really worsens and can no longer be overcome by a mere civilian emergency,"Yudhoyono said, according to the Antara news agency.
Maluku governor Saleh Latuconsina has recommended that the 18-month-old state of civilian emergency, which he heads, be upgraded to a military emergency, Yudhoyono said after a security meeting on Ambon.
A team of officials sent from Jakarta to assess conditions in Ambon also backs a military emergency, the minister said.
The team, comprising top security officers and officials from the attorney general's office and home ministry, was dispatched Monday to help authorities in the provincial capital Ambon, following the slaughter of 13 Christians in a pre-dawn raid by masked attackers on Sunday.
"If the current conditions under the civilian emergency continue to be disturbed and attacks continue, then I think there should be efforts towards that (the imposition of the military emergency)," national police chief General Da'i Bachtiar said in Surabaya according to the Antara news agency.
Yudhoyono said many politicians, mass organisations and legislators have called for a military emergency in Maluku.
"There should be no hesitation to impose a military emergency because it turns out that the civilian emergency authority in Maluku cannot effectively settle the problem," MP Sutradara Ginting of the Justice and Unity Party said.
But Yudhoyono warned a military emergency entailed certain actions needed to restore security "which could be seen as curtailing human rights."
But Ginting asked: "Which is the more serious human rights violation? The military acting firmly, or allowing civilians to become victims?"
Under martial law, authority would rest with the military and it would be allowed to arrest people for up to 70 days.
Indonesian law requires that such an emergency be declared by the president in consultation with the parliament.
In February, the government brokered a peace pact between the warring Muslim and Christian camps to end over three years of sectarian violence which has already killed more than 5,000 people and displaced over half a million people.
Top welfare minister Yusuf Kalla said the truce he had helped broker now needed to be reviewed in light of the recent upsurge of violence.
"The results of the (peace) declaration have undergone a setback, and therefore there is a need for a rescheduling and a disarmament," Kalla was quoted by Antara as saying in Surabaya.
The shaky truce was shattered early in April by a deadly bomb blast in Ambon, and by a series of blasts and angry protests last week surrounding the anniversary of the outlawed separatist South Maluku Republic (RMS).
Clandestine raisings of the RMS flag on Thursday angered many Muslims who blame the small and predominantly Christian movement of fanning the sectarian violence.
Copyright (c) 2002 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 04/30/2002 03:40:01
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