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  Indonesia: Next Steps in Military Reform


Indonesia: Next Steps in Military Reform

Jakarta/Brussels, 11 October 2001: Since the fall of Soeharto the Indonesian National Military (TNI) has withdrawn or been pushed back from the heights of political power. However, the military still exercises influence at the highest levels, its members are allocated seats in national and regional parliaments and it is largely self-funding. While the government and TNI are publicly committed to the idea of civilian supremacy, the administration has not conducted a fundamental review of defence policy in over twenty years. The government needs to put its stamp on defence policy and not leave the military to its own devices.

A new report from the International Crisis Group, Indonesia: Next Steps in Military Reform, provides a detailed study of the steps required to end the military’s political role in Indonesia and transform itself into a professional force. It notes that President Megawati committed her government to reviving military reform in a speech delivered in August.

The parliament (MPR) has also stipulated that the TNI should be subject to policy direction by the government, be politically neutral, support democracy and human rights and eventually cease to hold parliamentary seats, but much more effort is needed to implement these policy prescriptions.

ICG senior analyst Robert Lowry said: “The Indonesian government must take control of developing military policy. The current vacuum means policy is largely left to the military itself. The government should also take a more active and concerted role in solving domestic armed conflict in Aceh, Maluku and elsewhere. An important element in this regard is to define responsibilities between the military and police. ”

President Megawati’s commitment to seeking solutions to these conflicts, if successful, would be an enormous boost to reform across the board. ICG urges the Indonesian government to be much more active in trying to resolve its domestic security problems. The international community should also support the search for peaceful solutions to these conflicts.

However, further foreign assistance for military reform should be determined by the TNI’s willingness to commit itself to reforming the conduct of its troops in the field. Mr Lowry said: “Existing limits to military cooperation should be maintained until there is evidence of effective punishment for human rights abuses. However, assistance could be provided for legislative drafting, planning, education and training that may help with policy reviews and implementation of reform.”

Media contacts: Katy Cronin or Sascha Pichler at ICG Brussels, +32 2 536 00 64 or 70; [email protected]


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