Indonesia: Creating an Islamic Republic

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June 23, 2006: Islamic militants are running a campaign of terrorism and propaganda in an attempt to establish an Islamic dictatorship. The majority of Indonesians are against this, but the 10-20 percent of Indonesians that are Islamic conservatives see themselves commanded by God to make it happen. The government hopes that, over time, the religious nuts will just go away.

June 20, 2006: The Indonesian military still owns some 1,500 of businesses, making it, to a certain extent, independent of the government. A law was passed in 2004, calling for the military to sell off all its businesses by 2009. But the generals are dragging their feet, and show signs of ignoring the law.

June 17, 2006: Peacekeepers in East Timor are getting some weapons off the streets. But only a few percent of the thousands of rifles and pistols have been turned in or seized. Moreover, people don't need firearms to get violent. Most of the gangs that have been robbing and looting, were armed with machetes, knives, spears, swords, or just clubs.

June 16, 2006: East Timor's Prime Minister Doctor Mari Alkatiri is widely believed to be the cause of the recent violence. Alkatiri passed weapons to civilian partisans, and used the police and military to support his political goals. This was the same process that caused anarchy in other majority Melanesian nations (New Guinea, Solomons). East Timorese fear that when UN peacekeepers leave, the old bad habits will reassert themselves. In an attempt to stop that cycle, there are demands that Alkatiri be arrested and tried. But so far, Alkatiri has refused to resign. About half the population, largely from eastern East Timor, support Alkatiri, while the rest support the head of state (president Gusmao.)

 

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