02/04/2005, 00.00
INDONESIA – UNITED NATIONS

Some in Indonesia criticise UN tsunami relief envoy Bill Clinton

by Mathias Hariyadi
PDIP politicians accuse the United Nations of internationalising the Aceh question.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Members of the Indonesian Democratic Party Struggle (PDIP) voiced strong concern over the appointment of former US President Bill Clinton as the UN envoy to manage post-tsunami relief in Asia.

The PDIP, which is former Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri's party and which is now in the opposition, called on current President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to refuse Mr Clinton's mission in Aceh and northern Sumatra.

Tjahjio Kumolo, a member of the PDIP executive council, warned that the UN and Mr Clinton favour negotiations between the Free Aceh Movement and the government and are thus "interfering in what is strictly an internal and not an international issue".

In response, UN spokesperson Fred Eckhard said that the Special UN mission is limited to post-tsunami relief and reconstruction and will not play any role in the peace processes in Sri Lanka or Indonesia.

Initially, the United Nations had motivated their choice of Bill Clinton for his unprecedented efforts in bringing rebel movements to the negotiating tables in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. It was also during Clinton's presidency that East Timor became independent from Indonesia,

Indonesian Defence Minister Juwono Sudarono said he was convinced that "the mission of the former US president in Aceh and northern Sumatra was humanitarian in nature, not political".

The USS aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln is scheduled to leave Indonesian territorial waters in 48 hours. Its planes were the first to reach victims of the December 26 tsunami.

In Jakarta, US representatives and their Indonesian counterparts declared that the Abraham Lincoln's mission "has been accomplished'.

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