AMM asks government to clarify parts of Aceh governance law

Aceh Kita – July 22, 2006
AMM chairperson Pieter Feith pictured centre (Antara)
AMM chairperson Pieter Feith pictured centre (Antara)

Radzie, Banda Aceh – The Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) is asking the Indonesian government to clarify a number of points in the Aceh Governance Law (UU-PA) that are not in compliance with the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The AMM’s mission in Aceh is also to be extended until November 2006.

AMM chairperson Pieter Feith conveyed this following a meeting of the Commission on Security Arrangements (CoSA) at the Aceh Governor’s attendance hall on Saturday July 22. Aside from Feith, also present at the meeting was the Minister for Communication and Information Sofyan Djalil, Indonesia’s senior representative on the AMM Bambang Darmono, Free Aceh Movement (GAM) spokesperson Bakhtiar Abdullah and GAM’s representative on the AMM Irwandi Yusuf.

Feith said that the articles that are not in compliance with the MoU are the points on the duties and role of the TNI (Indonesian military) in Aceh, which is not explicitly stipulated in the UU-PA, whereas the MoU says that the TNI should only play a role in external defense. In addition to this Feith also focused on the removal of the word agreement in the section on the authority of the Acehnese legislative assembly. The MoU states that all policies made by the central government that are related to Aceh must be done through consultation and with the agreement of the Acehnese legislative.

“As I have said, in general it is the same as the MoU, be we are asking for clarification from the government about the TNI’s [role] in Aceh and we want to see the government and also emphasise to the government that it clarify the issue of the removal of the word agreement in the law”, said Faith.

“If you read the MoU, it states that the Acehnese legislative must be given the authority on all polices from Jakarta. Whereas in the law it says there only need be consultation”, he said. “The government must respond to the problem immediately”.

During the CoSA meeting, Darmono said that with regard to the words “consolation an advisement” that are contained in Article 8, the government says that the meaning of the word consultation is that normally, consultation with the relevant Acehnese authorities would take place until a consensus is reached.

Djalil said that the deficiencies in the law would only be visible after the law is implemented on the ground. Aside from this he also said that there was a possibility of amending the law. “Amendments to the law of course continue to be possible. Laws are always amended. But what is important is don’t talk about amendments first, implement it first and then we will know what its weaknesses are”, he said.

Yusuf meanwhile said that GAM still needs time to study the law that was ratified on July 11. He said however that there are two articles that GAM have already decided to object to, the articles on authority (Article 11) and Article 8 on the authority of the Acehnese legislative.

“There are a number of articles in the law that are not in accordance with the MoU. In fact I have already spoken about it at a plenary meeting in Jakarta, I have already signaled that there is something amiss”, he said.

Yusuf said that GAM is currently preparing a document (an assessment of the UU-PA) and will present it to the AMM. “We are currently in the process of writing a document and will present it to the AMM next week. The next step will be to go to the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) if the problem cannot be resolved at the AMM”, explained Yusuf.

All of the parties agreed to hold another CoSA meeting on August 14 that will be attended by the former president of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari, who is also the head of the CMI.


The AMM’s mission in Aceh will be extended until November 2006 or after the election of regional heads in Aceh. Feith said that he had met with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who asked that the AMM’s mission be extended until November. Faith said however, that the European Union has yet to make a decision on the matter. “But no decision has been made yet because the EU has not given [us] its decision”, he said.

Base on the outcome of a meeting between regional governments, the National Election Commission and the AMM some time ago, it was agreed that the election of regional heads would be held in November. So far however, the stages of the election have not yet been worked out such as the issue of new identity cards. The MoU states that the government must finish distributing new ID cards to replace the red-and-white ID cards by April.

It has been decided that the red-and-white ID card, which remains valid since the government enacted the state of martial law in Aceh in May 2003, can be used to register to vote. Feith said he hoped that all Acehnese would obtain a new ID card by the time the elections are held. [dzie]

[Translated by James Balowski.]