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Cablegate: South Sulawesi: Demonstrations Continue in Advance Of

VZCZCXRO5536
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0007/01 0180129
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 180129Z JAN 08
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0141
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0127
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0065
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0063
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0144

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SURABAYA 000007

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID ID
SUBJECT: SOUTH SULAWESI: DEMONSTRATIONS CONTINUE IN ADVANCE OF
EXPECTED JANUARY 19 CARETAKER GOVERNOR APPOINTMENT

REF: SURABAYA 91 AND PREVIOUS

SURABAYA 00000007 001.2 OF 002


Portions of this Message are Sensitive But Unclassified. Please
Protect Accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: Daily protests against the Supreme Court's
December decision requesting gubernatorial elections be re-run
in four South Sulawesi regencies turned violent January 16 when
supporters of declared victor Syahrul Yasin Limpo entered the
governor's office. The local election commission chairman and
provincial police chief predicted that January 19, when the
central government is expected to name a caretaker governor,
would be a peak day of protests. Local election officials
maintain that the court has no authority to decide who won the
election. Local observers believe that protests will continue
until the judicial review of the Supreme Court's decision is
completed. They expressed concern that the protests could begin
to break down along ethnic lines. Vice President and South
Sulawesi native Jusuf Kalla asked both parties to avoid
violence. End Summary.

Peaceful Protests Get Ugly
--------------------------------

2. (U) Protestors continue to stage daily demonstrations in the
provincial capital of Makassar against the Supreme Court's
December 19 decision to ask the South Sulawesi election
commission (KPUD) to hold re-elections for governor in four
regencies (reftel). On Monday, January 14, according to press
reports, supporters of the declared victors, Syahrul Yasin Limpo
and Agus Nu'mang, occupied the local parliamentary offices for
six hours and blockaded the main road running in front of local
government offices. On Wednesday, July 16, according to press
reports, thousands of people demonstrated in front of the
governor's office to demand that the Minister of Home Affairs
install the governor-elect Syahrul Yasin Limpo. Demonstrators
eventually broke down the front door of the governor's office.
A second demonstration was held in front of the local parliament
building the same day.

Judges "Didn't Know Any Better"
---------------------------------------

3. (SBU) On December 17, during a meeting with Surabaya Pol-Econ
Officer, KPUD chairman Andi Mappinawang criticized the Supreme
Court's decision, stating that the court has no standing to
decide who won the election and had overstepped its authority.
Mappinawang noted that the court make its decision strictly on
the basis of witness statements, without reviewing any voting
data or statistical evidence. He added that the five judges had
no experience with election law and thus "didn't know any
better." Mappinawang added that the court did not annul the
election results, which meant that the declared winners, Syahrul
Yasin Limpo and Agus Nu'mang, were the rightful governor and
vice governor respectively of South Sulawesi. Supriansyah,
Director of Makassar Intellectual Law, told the Consulate
January 17 that protests will likely continue until the judicial
review of the Supreme Court's decision is completed. That
review process is expected to take three months.

4. (SBU) Mappinawang called the Minister of Home Affairs
intention to install a caretaker governor on January 19 a
terrible idea -- "why have an election if you don't want to
abide by the results?" He added that it set a bad precedent to
overturn an election because of disagreements over a close
victory. Mappinawang suggested that installation of a caretaker
government would heighten local anger over what is perceived as
Jakarta's interference in local politics. Whatever happens on
January 19, Mappinawang predicted, would cause a great deal of
unhappiness and likely spark increasingly violent
demonstrations. According to press reports, the provincial
police chief (Kapolda) expects "a peak of demonstrations" on
Saturday.

Jakarta's Interference
-------------------------

5. (SBU) Sukriansyah, the Chief Editor of the local newspaper
Fajar Daily, told visiting Pol-Econ Officer January 17 that the
demonstrators were not paid participants but rather truly
committed supporters who were angry with the court's
interference. The most energetic protestors were coming to
Makassar from the contested regencies, but were joined by local
residents and demonstrators from other areas. Legal advocate
Supriansyah told the Consulate that supporters of defeated
incumbent Amin Syam had yet to stage similar protests. He

SURABAYA 00000007 002.2 OF 002


predicted, however, that the two groups would most likely
confront each other "face to face" in the eastern part of South
Sulawesi and in the regencies of Bantaeng and Tana Toraja.

Jusuf Kalla's Role
---------------------

6. (SBU) While Fajar's Sukriansyah said that it appeared that
Vice President Jusuf Kalla was trying to keep his distance from
the ongoing dispute, Mappinawang was less convinced.
Mappinawang observed that it was difficult for the local
population to believe that Kalla was not trying to exert
influence to ensure that Golkar's candidate Amin Syam and
Kalla's brother-in-law Mansur Ramly were declared the winners in
his home province. Legal advocate Supriansyah said that Kalla
had met with both Amin Syam and Yasin Limpo and urged them to
obey the law. Both had reportedly promised to avoid violence.
Supriansyah expressed concern that the protests which destroyed
the governor's office door signaled that Yasin Limpo's
supporters were willing to use violence to put pressure on the
government and the courts.

7. (SBU) Supriansyah emphasized that local observers were
concerned that protests could eventually split along ethnic
lines and create a more dangerous situation. Amin Syam's
campaign, for example, highlighted his "real" Bugis identity,
while Yasin Limpo is a "Bugis-Makassar" man. Mappinawang noted
that support for the candidates cut across ethnic lines and
demonstrations to date had not rallied around ethnicity. He
acknowledged, however, that an unanticipated event could trigger
ethnic divisions.

Appointing a Caretaker
--------------------------

8. (SBU) Tribun Timur Makassar reported January 17 that Vice
President Jusuf Kalla had confirmed that the central government
would install a caretaker in South Sulawesi. The government is
reportedly considering two senior government officials --
Director General of the Politics and National Unit Dr. Sudarsono
Hardjosoekarto and Seman Widjojo, the Inspector General of the
Department of Home Affairs -- for the position. The Spokesman
for the Department of Home Affairs reportedly refused to
comment. Makassar is abuzz with rumors that the government will
appoint a former military official as caretaker.
MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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