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Cablegate: Aceh Update On Budget, Elections, and Law Enforcement

VZCZCXRO5129
PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #1131/01 1620717
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 100717Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9246
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHHE/AMEMBASSY HELSINKI 0927
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2626
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 3406
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 2087
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 001131

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
AIDAC

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MTS, INR/EAP
DEPARTMENT PLEASE PASS AID
USAID FOR ANE/EAA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL ECON SOCI ID
SUBJECT: Aceh Update on Budget, Elections, and Law Enforcement


1. (SBU) Summary. The Aceh yearly budget for 2008 was passed by
the provincial legislature on May 30, narrowly avoiding costly
sanctions for late submission threatened by the central government.
Less progress has been made in passing the provincial political
party law, where additional delays may disrupt preparation for
Aceh's April 2009 legislative elections. A joint law enforcement
operation purported to be acting against illegal loggers resulted in
claims of destruction of houses and property near a village in North
Aceh Regency May 30-31. End Summary.

Budget Finally Complete
-----------------------
2. (U) The Aceh Provincial Budget (APBA) for 2008 was approved by
the Acehnese provincial legislature (DPRA) on May 30 and submitted
to the Ministry of Home Affairs on June 2, more than 8 months after
it was due. Although the year is nearly half over, the budget
forecasts expenditures of approximately USD 885,000,000 in 2008.
Passing of the budget is a major, positive step after months of
sometimes acrimonious wrangling between Governor Irwandi Yusuf and
the legislature. The passage of the APBA for 2008 on May 30 avoids
by one day the imposition of approximately USD 15 million in
penalties threatened by the central government if the budget was not
submitted by the end of May. After it has been approved by the
Ministry of Home Affairs, the budget will be reviewed by the Finance
Ministry. Representatives of the provincial government and
legislature were in Jakarta the week of June 2 to defend the budget
with the Ministry of Home Affairs.
3. (SBU) The 2008 budget is nearly twice as large as the 2007
budget; due primarily to Aceh's receiving a bigger slice of
government revenue as part of the province's special autonomy
legislation. Many observers question the province's ability to
spend these funds effectively with slightly more than half of the
year behind them. Governor Irwandi Yusuf is more optimistic, telling
Consulate Medan that in 2007 the final budget was not approved until
the last quarter of the year, leaving the government only two months
to liquidate its budget. This year, he said, he hopes to have
nearly six months.

Worries about the 2009 Legislative Election
-------------------------------------------
4. (U) Aceh's Independent Election Commission (KIP) announced on
June 2 that it cannot announce the results of the verification
process for local parties because the provincial law (qanun) on
political parties has not yet been passed by the Aceh Parliament.
According to KIP chairman Abdul Salam Paroh, KIP must wait for the
final text of the qanun before it can publish the six procedural
rules for party and candidate registration and verification. For
the legislative elections, the verification process is constrained
by a tight timetable set by the Central General Election Commission
in Jakarta (KPUP). KIP Vice Chairman Ilham Syahputra told media on
May 30 that KIP has asked for extra time from Jakarta election
officials to verify the eligibility of 12 local parties and numerous
national parties but that KPUP refused saying any delay in local
elections in Aceh could adversely affect the schedule for 2009
national elections.
Joint Law Enforcement Action courts Controversy
--------------------------------------------- --
5. (U) On the evening of May 30 a joint law enforcement action
against illegal logging near the village of Alue Dua in the Nisam
Antara sub-district of North Aceh District resulted in the
destruction of property and reported shooting of livestock. Press
reports state that warning shots were also fired into the air.
Multiple sources including representatives of the Indonesian central
government, local officials, local witnesses, and media reports
agree that several huts were burned, four motorbikes were damaged by
fire, and one buffalo was found dead.

6. (SBU) The destruction caused by the operation has been condemned
in public statements by both representatives of the Aceh Provincial
Legislature (DPRA) and the GAM successor organization, the KPA. In
addition, the Jakarta representatives to the Aceh Peace Process, the
Forum for Communication and Coordination (FKK) sent their deputy,
Zainal Arifin, to the Nisam Antara sub-district from June 5-6 to
investigate the incident.

7. (SBU) Despite the loud condemnation of the incident, local
government officials and law enforcement personnel indicate that the

JAKARTA 00001131 002 OF 002


event may not have been as serious as initially feared. Medan's
contacts in the police confirmed that that a joint police-Ministry
of Forestry law enforcement operation took place on May 30-31, but
insisted that it was carried out to stop illegal logging operations.
They also confirmed most reports of the destruction of property.
Both the Vice Regent of North Aceh and the Village Chief near where
the law enforcement action occurred expressed sympathy for the
locals affected by the action but admitted that villagers had been
logging the areas in question to clear farmland. The problem, they
added, was that there were no guidelines about how community land
clearance activities are affected by the Aceh-wide ban on illegal
logging.

HUME

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