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Cablegate: Sultan of Ternate As North Maluku Mediator

VZCZCXRO8357
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0014 0350423
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 040423Z FEB 08
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0149
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0071
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0073
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0154

UNCLAS SURABAYA 000014

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON ID
SUBJECT: SULTAN OF TERNATE AS NORTH MALUKU MEDIATOR

REF: A. 07 SURABAYA 59

B. 07 JAKARTA 3121
C. 07 JAKARTA 3224
D. 07 JAKARTA 3236

1. (SBU) Summary: The Sultan of Ternate positioned himself as
the mediator of the continuing North Maluku gubernatorial
dispute during a January 25 meeting with Surabaya Principal
Officer. Ternate, the capital of North Maluku, was calm after
the January 23 Supreme Court ruling that supported former
Governor Thaib Armaiyn's re-election as Governor. The Sultan
combines his 40-year royal tenure with his democratically
elected seat in the national Parliament to wield significant
authority and influence in North Maluku. End summary.

--------------------------------------------- -----------
North Maluku Election Saga Continues; Thaib Gains Ground
--------------------------------------------- -----------

2. (U) On January 23, the Supreme Court ruled that the North
Maluku Election Commission -- not the National Election
Commission -- had jurisdiction to determine the winner of the
disputed North Maluku gubernatorial election. The Supreme Court
decision generated only minor protests in Ternate, but no
violence or unrest was apparent during our January 23-25 visit.
On November 16, the North Maluku Election Commission ruled that
Thaib Armaiyn won the North Maluku governorship; however, the
National Election Commission ruled on November 22 that
Golkar-supported Abdul Gafur won the flawed election (see
reftels). This election saga is not complete as the National
Election Committee vowed to file judicial review at the Supreme
Court. Timbul Sugianta is currently the Acting Governor. Thaib
Armaiyn is supported by the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS),
National Awakening Party (PKB), the Democratic Party (PD), and
the Crescent Star Party (PBB). Thaib is accused by local NGOs
of corruption totaling Rp 54 billion ($6 million) during his
previous tenure as North Maluku governor. Abdul Gafur, a former
Suharto-era minister, is supported by Golkar and the National
Mandate Party (PAN).

-----------------------------------------
The Sultan of Ternate: The Royal Democrat
-----------------------------------------

3. (SBU) The Sultan of Ternate combines imperial authority
through his role as Sultan with the democratic credential of
serving as one of four North Maluku MPs in the national
parliament. A self-declared "Sultan of the people," Haji
Mudzhaffar Shah II acknowledged his limited authority and
symbolic function as Sultan of Ternate. However, he also framed
his authority as Sultan as a power given to him by the people,
noting that the people could remove him from power if they
protested his rule. The Sultan described his reign as a
"different form of democracy," stating that Ternate has
practiced decentralization for over 800 years with the Sultanate
holding significant power as local authority.

-------------------------
The Sultan as Peacemeaker
-------------------------

4. (SBU) The Sultan also promoted himself as the gatekeeper of
North Maluku for economic and political affairs. The Sultan
said that his permission was a pre-requisite for doing business
in the region. He also presented himself as the most effective
peacemaker of the ongoing gubernatorial election. The North
Maluku Election Commission had denied his attempt to register as
a candidate for last November's election, sparking
demonstrations from his followers. He described the
gubernatorial candidates as waiting in limbo, explicitly stating
that he alone could resolve the matter. The Sultan's proposed
answer to the electoral strife hinged on his ability to run in a
new round of elections, which he fully expected to win, but
which do not have any legal basis to occur. He said supported a
strong military and police role in North Maluku. Although the
Sultan will likely not be the next North Maluku governor, his
societal position and access to resources gives him a strong
position to influence the election and overall political
environment in North Maluku.

MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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