06/28/2005, 00.00
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Sulawesi: a special law to manage a never ending conflict

The proposal of the House of Representatives for the central government: "Standard laws are not effective; reactivate the Forum for inter-religious dialogue".

Poso (AsiaNews) – The Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) today called on Jakarta to issue a government decree (Keppres) to manage the interminable conflict in Poso in the Sulawesi archipelago. According to the special DPR committee on Poso (Pansus Poso), an extraordinary law is required because so far, the regional government's standard laws have not succeeded in eliminating frequent violence which continues to plague Poso and outlying areas.

 In a press conference at the DPR headquarters this afternoon, Muhaimin Iskander, Pansus Poso vice-president, said the special committee has drafted a series of recommendations for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono about how to resolve Poso's problems.  

According to Sembiring Meliala, member for Pansus Poso, continued violence in the area is a clear sign of the ineffectiveness of standard law. He criticised the government for not guaranteeing security and legal protection to eye witnesses who come forward in court to tell of incidents and hostilities which took place.

Pansus Poso is urging the central government and Poso authorities to use the Forum for Inter-religious Dialogue – stalled for more than six year – as a partner to manage the crisis. According to Meliala, the minister for religious affairs should reactivate the forum and make it a tool for shared use. "We are forcefully asking President Yudhoyono to issue special legislation for Poso," he added.

Getting police to disarm the population is another of the requests of Pansus Poso.

More than 85% of Indonesia's 220 million inhabitants are Muslim, but in zones like the Sulawesi and Moluccas provinces, the population is equally divided into Christians and Muslims. The war between the two communities in Sulawesi erupted in 1999. A peace agreement signed in 2001 sought to calm the situation even if there are still clashes and tensions. (MH)

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