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Cablegate: Aceh: Front Runners in Election

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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 070407Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2379
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0188
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 3280
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0144
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 1192
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHHJJPI/USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 JAKARTA 013426

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

Consulate Medan # 37, 2006

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL KDEM KHUM ASEC ID
SUBJECT: ACEH: FRONT RUNNERS IN ELECTION

1. (U) Summary: As the official campaign period winds down,
no pair of candidates has taken a decisive lead in the race
to become Aceh Governor and Vice Governor. Three pairs of
candidates -- Malek Raden and Fuad Zakaria, Humam Hamid and
Hasbi Abdullah, and Azwar Abubakar and Nasir Djamil -- have
pulled ahead of the other five competitors. Irwandi Yusuf
and Muhammad Nazar are a distant fourth place, but gained
ground after GAM leadership decided to withdraw formal
support for Hamid and become neutral in the race. All
candidates are promising essentially the same thing: peace
and prosperity. In private meetings, however, a more nuanced
picture emerges and differences become apparent in their
views on critical issues ranging from the Law on Governing
Aceh (LOGA) and reintegration to implementation of Syariah
Law - issues of critical importance to Aceh's future. End
Summary.

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A Three-Way Race
----------------
2. (SBU) An International Foundation for Election Systems
(IFES) poll in late November, revealed that only three pairs
of candidates can claim more than 10 percent of likely
voters: Humam Hamid, who is affiliated with United
Development Party (PPP), with 16.8 percent; Malek Raden, the
Golkar candidate, with 14.1 percent; and Azwar Abubakar, a
former acting governor affiliated with the National Mandate
Party (PAN), with 13.5 percent. Irwandi Yusuf, a former GAM
leader running as an independent, came in a distant fourth
place with 7.8 percent. Given that more than a third of
likely voters could not or would not tell surveyors whom
they planned to support, there are enough voters in play to
put any of the candidates over the 25-percent threshold
needed to win by plurality.

3. (SBU) These survey results confirm what most Acehnese
politicians, ulamas, journalists, and intellectuals have
been telling us for weeks: the election will come down to
these pairs of candidates. Many of these same observers,
however, told us over the last week that GAM's withdrawing
of its endorsement of Hamid and declaring neutrality in the
race has given Irwandi Yusuf's campaign some much-needed
momentum. (Note: After several GAM commanders threatened
to break ranks over against GAM's endorsement of Hamid,
Malek Mahmoud declared GAM neutral in the race to prevent
the split from deepening.) Although still unlikely, a last-
minute surge could thrust Yusuf into contention. A more
likely outcome, however, is that Yusuf may siphon away
enough of the pro-Hamid GAM vote to cost Hamid the election,
particularly if there is no runoff election when GAM
sympathizers can rally around a single candidate.

Campaign promises
-----------------
4. (SBU) Based on stump speeches, it is often difficult to
tell candidates apart as all the candidates make essentially
the same promises: peace and prosperity for all. During the
last several weeks, however, we have spoken with the
candidates about their views and programs. On critical
issues ranging from the Law on Governing Aceh and
reintegration to Syariah law implementation, there are
subtle but important distinctions among the candidates.

Peace and Reintegration
-----------------------
5. (SBU) Views on the peace process and reintegration of
former rebels vary considerably among the candidates. Raden
and Yusuf hold the most extreme, and opposed, positions, and
Abubakar and Hamid fall in between those poles.

6. (SBU) Malek Raden believes that the Indonesian government
fulfilled the commitments it made in the Helsinki MOU as
well as can be reasonably expected. In his view, government
programs undertaken through bodies like the Aceh
Reintegration Board are important, but there are practical
limits to what these targeted programs can accomplish in the
longer term. While Raden is careful not to say that he
opposes additional reintegration activities, he appears to
believe the election represents the culmination of the
reconciliation process. In the future, programs to benefit
the entire province, such as his plan to improve public
health and education, are more important to lasting peace

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than programs focused narrowly on ex-combatants.

7. (SBU) Irwandi Yusuf takes the opposite view. He worries
that many people consider the election and the departure of
the Aceh Monitoring Mission to be the end of the peace
process. In reality, he says, Jakarta has not fulfilled its
commitment to compensate GAM combatants or victims of
conflict and not enough has been done to build trust between
the Acehnese and the military. (Note: Yusuf opposes the use
of the word "reintegration" because it implies that GAM
members are not part of mainstream Acehnese society.)

8. (SBU) Yusuf also sees a critical need to bring together
GAM, civil society, the government, and military in a new
forum to replace the Commission on Security Arrangements
(COSA), which was previously chaired by AMM and terminates
when AMM departs on December 15. Unless this is done, he
says, there will be no mechanism to discuss the inevitable
problems and misunderstandings that will arise between GAM
and the security forces, and no institutionalized setting
for confidence building will exist.

9. (SBU) Humam Hamid and Azwar Abubakar take similar
positions on reintegration and peace building. Both support
ongoing reintegration activities and have well-defined plans
to strengthen them further. Both candidates acknowledge that
the provincial government will have to take the lead in
providing additional resources for ex-combatants and victims
of conflict because Jakarta is unlikely to provide further
resources.

Law Governing Aceh (LOGA)
-------------------------
10. (SBU) Discussion of the LOGA diminished significantly as
the election season began. Among the gubernatorial
candidates, only Irwandi Yusuf insists publicly that it must
be amended to conform to the MOU. In private, Hamid is non-
committal about the LOGA and, while he does not want to
offend GAM on the issue, appears willing to accept the
existing law. Abubakar criticizes the way the LOGA was
developed but does not appear inclined to make an issue of
it. He told us privately that he feels some of GAM's
criticisms of the LOGA amount to little more than "commas."
Raden's views on the LOGA are not well known, but it is
widely believed that he would be unwilling to expend
political capital in Jakarta trying to revise it.

Enforcement of Syariah Law
--------------------------
11. (SBU) Although none of the candidates talks publicly
about implementation of Syariah law, it is one issue in
which differences among the candidates are most stark. In
private, Irwandi Yusuf expresses contempt for the way
Syariah law is enforced. He told us recently that the
implementation of Syariah law has interrupted the "natural
development" of Islam in the province and that it was
undermining Aceh's international reputation. In the event he
becomes governor, he promises to reform and cut back the
Office of Syariah Affairs and the religious police.

12. (SBU) Abubakar, by contrast, takes a hard line on
Syariah law. He told us pushing the religious police to all
corners of Aceh is one of his proudest accomplishments as
Acting Governor. He discounts the notion that strict
enforcement of Syariah law might hurt the economy by
frightening tourists and investors. On the contrary, he
said, it is only through "resolute" enforcement of Syariah
law that the Acehnese can overcome their problems.

13. (SBU) Hamid is uncomfortable with the way that Syariah
has been implemented and said that he would like to see the
focus of the religious police change from enforcement to
teaching. "Hard methods," such as those used by the
religious police, he argued, cause "anger without leading to
greater devotion."

14. (SBU) Raden's detailed views about Syariah are unknown
but are believed to moderate and consistent with his
Muhammadiyah background. His running mate for vice governor,
Fuad Zakaria, told us that he was not aware of problems with
the Office of Syariah Affairs or the religious police; it

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did not appear that Syariah was even on his radar screen.
Pascoe

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