10/31/2006, 00.00
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Jakarta sending troops to Poso to start reconstruction

The decision is made after vice president meets local religious leaders. Three main goals are set: economic recovery, law enforcement and investigation in local deaths.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The Indonesian government sent troops yesterday to Poso (Central Sulawesi) to begin rebuilding homes and infrastructure damaged during the sectarian fighting of 1999-2001. The move comes a day after Vice President Jusuf Kalla met local religious leaders to discuss ways to ensure peace in the troubled province.

Economic recovery was one of three goals agreed to in meetings between Kalla and Muslim and Christian religious leaders late Sunday. The other two priorities are law enforcement and an investigation into an incident on October 22 when police shot and killed a man during an anti-terrorist operation in a Muslim village near Poso.

In 1999-2001 thousands were displaced and some 1,000 killed in the conflict in Central Sulawesi, which followed more extensive bloodshed between Christians and Muslims in Maluku province.

The head of the Wirabuana territorial command, Major General Arief Budi Sampurno, said that troops would work for up to four months to build some 1,000 temporary homes for returning refugees, as well as mosques and churches in some 68 villages near Poso.

Troops would not attempt to impose order; that is already being done by security forces and army units already in place.

Soldiers will also build a bridge and a 65-kilometer road to open access to and from Badak village in the mountainous Tentena district, an area that has been isolated for decades.

On Sunday, Vice President Kalla met Christian and Muslim leaders separately. Leaders from both communities stressed that relations between Christians and Muslims were back to normal.

Any violence still taking place in the area is therefore likely the work of terrorists who are deliberately trying to sow the seeds of communal tensions.

For the vice president, these acts of terrorism must be considered Indonesia's top priority and Poso's sick society sheds light on Indonesia's sick body politics.

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