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Cablegate: North Maluku: Golkar, Presidential Proxy Fight Over

VZCZCXRO4894
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0070/01 1620102
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 100102Z JUN 08
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0229
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0121
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0215
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY 0028
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0234
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0119

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SURABAYA 000070

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, INR/EAP, DRL/PHD, INL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KISL KCOR ID
SUBJECT: NORTH MALUKU: GOLKAR, PRESIDENTIAL PROXY FIGHT OVER
GOVERNOR'S RACE ADDS FUEL TO RIOTS

REF: A. (A) Surabaya 48

B. Surabaya 20 (and previous)

SURABAYA 00000070 001.2 OF 002


This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. Summary: (SBU) Violence has flared again between the
supporters of candidates for North Maluku Governor. Local
ethnic friction and Jakarta party politics have made this far
flung governor's race drag on for almost six months now. The
latest round of violence was reportedly triggered by the June 2
declaration by the Minister for Home Affairs that the incumbents
had won reelection. On June 4, supporters of the challengers
torched several houses belonging to supporters of the
incumbents. June 5 brought more clashes and a cancelled
inauguration ceremony. Violent protests in Tidore and Ternate
continue while all indications are that North Maluku will
finally install incumbents Thaib Armayn and Abdulgani Kasuba
whatever the consequences. The only question is when. Rumors
circulate that Vice President Jusuf Kalla's behind-the-scenes
intervention was again unsuccessful in turning the tide for a
Golkar candidate. House Speaker and Golkar Deputy Chairman
Agung Laksono has suggested that Golkar withdraw support for the
President's government due to a string of similar electoral
defeats. End Summary

Home Affairs Ministry Decision Triggers Violence
--------------------------------------------- ---

2. (SBU) Violence broke out in Ternate on June 3 between the
supporters of North Maluku Governor challengers Abdul Gafur and
Fabanyo, supported by Golkar, Party for National Democratic
Unity (PDK), and National Mandate Party (PAN) and incumbents
Thaib Armayin and Kasuba, supported by Prosperous Justice Party
(PKS), Democrat Party, The Crescent Moon Party (PBB), and
National Awakening Party (PKB). The clash followed the
declaration by the Minister of Home Affairs that the incumbents
had won the long-disputed election. Supporters of Abdul Gafur
and Fabanyo blocked the city's main street for three hours. This
latest decision overturned the recommendation of North Maluku's
Parliament who met in plenary session in April (Ref A).

Violence on Tidore
------------------

3. (SBU) In related violence, four houses were burned and three
other houses were destroyed on Tidore Island on June 3. Ternate
Police told Congen Surabaya that the attack was triggered by the
Home Affairs Ministry decision and the houses destroyed belonged
to the supporters of incumbent. Police sources told us the size
of the mob was too large to confront and police were unable to
protect the homes. In the early morning of June 4, tensions
were still high on Tidore, but according to Alwi of Diahi Radio,
violence had not yet spilled over into Ternate.

Police Outmatched by Supporters
-------------------------------

4. (SBU) On June 4, roughly 800 supporters of the challenger
Abdul Gafur marched from his residence to the Governor's office
in Ternate to stage a protest that ended by early afternoon.
Simultaneously supporters of the incumbent Thalib gathered near
his home in Ternate's Salahudin sub-district. Similar back and
fourth skirmishes involving teams of rival supporters throwing
stones occurred on June 5. Police put Ternate City on alert and
put 1,800 police and three companies of Mobile Brigade forces on
alert to prevent rival supporters from clashing. Clashes did
occur, but stayed small and the police were able to disperse the
crowds from in front of the homes of rival candidates.

Golkar Feels Robbed -- Kalla Weighs In
---------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Surya Paloh, chairman of Golkar's steering committee,
told media that Golkar is disappointed with the decision of the
Minister of Home Affairs but supports the President. In shades
of a prior Golkar defeat in South Sulawesi's gubernatorial
election, Vice President Jusuf Kalla lobbied Minister Mardiyanto
for almost an hour according to Surya. The deputy chairman of
Golkar, Agung Laksono, asked President Yudhoyono not to sign the
Minister's decision. Muddying the waters, Idrus Marham,
Golkar's parliamentary leader threatened to file suit against
Mardiyanto. According to Alwi of Diahi Radio, Jakarta is more
tense than Ternate as Golkar, desperate for a win after a string

SURABAYA 00000070 002.2 OF 002


of provincial losses, battles hard for North Maluku. On June
10, Agung Laksono hinted that the victory of a candidate from
the President's party at the expense of one from the Vice
President's party showed a "lack of proportionality". This
threat by Golkar leadership to drop out of President Yudhoyono's
coalition is an apparent reaction to events in N. Maluku.

Flash Points Remain
--------------------

6. (SBU) North Maluku Police told Congen Surabaya that despite
continued protests, North Maluku's government is prepared to
comply with the Home Affairs Ministry order. Police sources
were hopeful that quick installation of a new governor might end
the trouble. However the inauguration has been canceled for the
time being. Alwi of Diahi Radio told Congen Surabaya that
President Yudhoyono has yet to sign the decree installing the
incumbents. In another echo of South Sulawesi politics, the
central government is reportedly being encouraged to appoint
retired general Tanri Lamo, the former acting governor of South
Sulawesi, to replace the current caretaker governor.

Complications -- Ethnicity and Corruption
-----------------------------------------

7. (SBU) Indonesian Police are still waiting for permission from
President Yudhoyono to question Thaib Armayn for allegedly
misusing around Rp. 6.9 billion (USD) from the state budget.
Indonesian National Police reportedly took over this case from
North Maluku Police as the situation in North Maluku remains
unstable and conflict between supporters of the two governor
candidates has escalated. Thaib remains free and is regarded as
a witness.

8. (SBU) Fachmy Alhaidar Secretary of Muslim organization
Al-Khairat in Ternate told Congen Surabaya on June 6 that while
ethnic tension normally simmers just below the surface in North
Maluku, it has erupted into clashes over the gubernatorial
election. There are three major Muslim ethnic groups in North
Maluku: Makian, Petani Maba and Ternate. While the Makian are
in the minority, since they tend to be more educated, they are
disproportionately represented in the provincial bureaucracy.
The incumbent Thaib Armayn is Makian, and has placed fellow
Makians throughout the higher echelons of government. Makian
bureaucrats are suspected of corruption and nepotism leading the
other ethnic groups to vote against Thaib Armayn. They gave
their support to Abdul Gafur, who is a Petani Maba. Although
many claimed not to like Abdul Gafur's Air Force background,
they voted for him anyway since he was the only candidate
considered strong enough to beat the incumbent.
MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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