Aceh governance law not in accordance with peace deal – survey

Aceh Kita – July 20, 2006
Aceh Kita (Our Aceh) tabloid (Aceh Pungo)
Aceh Kita (Our Aceh) tabloid (Aceh Pungo)

Banda Aceh – How do the readers of Aceh Kita regard the Law on Aceh Governance (UU-PA) that was ratified by the House of Representatives on July 11? Is it in accordance with the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) or has it in fact deviated from the agreement.

Out of 512 respondents to a survey carried out by Aceh Kita between July 12 and July 20, the majority, 442 people or 86.33 percent stated that the UU-PA is not in accordance with the MoU. Only 46 people or 9 percent of respondents said it was in accordance with MoU. Meanwhile 24 people or 4.7 percent of respondents said they did not know.

Are there grounds for readers of the Aceh Kita web site to regard the UU-PA as not being in accordance with the August 2005 agreement? How is it that a number of articles in the law are still problematic, particularly Articles 8 and 11. In Article 8 it only refers to the central government having to ask for an opinion and consult with the Acehnese legislative assembly on policies that affect Aceh. In the peace agreement it says that the central government must consult with and ask for the agreement of the Acehnese legislative assembly.

Meanwhile in Article 11, objections have been raised because the central government has the authority to regulate standards and norms in how the Achenese government is run. This article is seen as cutting into the authority of the Acehnese government. Civil groups and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) have both protested over these two articles. This still does not include the article on human rights violations that are not retrospective.

In Aceh, the UU-PA is still a subject of heated discussion in coffee shops, offices, and of course among activist circles, academics, students and politicians. Many Acehnese hope that the UU-PA can preserve peace and bring prosperity to the population of the province that for the last 30 years lived under the shackles of the armed conflict between GAM and the Indonesian government.

“Hopefully from now on it will be safe in Aceh after the ratification of the law”, said Razali (47), a rickshaw driver at the Aceh Market when speaking to Aceh Kita a day after the law was ratified. [dzie]

[Translated by James Balowski.]