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Indonesian military, national police make up after violent clash

Jakarta Globe - April 24, 2012

Gorontalo – Indonesian Military and police personnel signed a peace agreement during a reconciliation ceremony in Gorontalo after clashes between the two rival groups in the northern Sulawesi province on Sunday left eight people wounded.

The joint declaration stipulates that both sides be open and support each other, and uphold unity to prevent public unrest, Antara reported. There was no word whether or not those responsible for the violence would face charges.

The incident, in the early hours of Sunday, involved members of the Gorontalo Police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob) unit and soldiers from the Army's Kostrad strategic reserve command.

Six soldiers and two Brimob officers were hurt in the violence. Four of the soldiers suffered gunshot wounds and the two others had slash wounds. The two Brimob members were injured by stones thrown at them. The brawl in Gorontalo province caught the attention of lawmakers in Jakarta.

"This incident will encourage people to use violence to solve their problems. House Commission III demands that this be handled seriously," said Nasir Djamil, the deputy chairman of the House of Representatives commission that oversees legal affairs.

The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) lawmaker said he believed the brawl was prompted by a dispute over sources of revenue.

"It also shows the failure of the leaders of those units to maintain discipline," he said. "I hope that the leadership of both the Kostrad and the Brimob in Gorontalo is evaluated and, if there are cases of negligence or fighting over sources of revenues, that they be dismissed."

Hajriyanto Thohari, deputy chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), said links between the police and military needed to be better regulated.

The Golkar Party official said that following the separation of the two forces in 1999, ties between the police and military were characterized by squabbles over money and territory. He said the military, charged with defending the nation, had a smaller day-to-day role than the police.

Mahfudz Siddiq, a PKS lawmaker who heads House Commission I, which oversees defense and security, demanded that the National Police and military "study the root cause of clashes between their personnel" because the Gorontalo incident was only the tip of the iceberg.

He said there should be no significant differences in the welfare of police officers and soldiers, that their duties did not overlap, and efforts should be made to improve discipline and professionalism in both forces.

And quick and appropriate law enforcement in disputes involving the police and military, he added, would act as a deterrent to future problems.

Indonesian Military (TNI) spokesman Rear Adm. Iskandar Sitompul called on soldiers not to allow themselves to be dragged into conflicts. "The TNI headquarters regrets the incident," he said. "We should keep a cool head in settling this case. No one should be provoked."

He said military and police leaders at the provincial and district levels were holding meetings to discuss the incident. "I hope that this case is comprehensively investigated," Iskandar said. (JG/Antara)