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Security situation to remain volatile in 2013: Minister

Jakarta Post - January 8, 2013

Bagus BT Saragih, Bogor, West Java – The government has warned against escalating tensions this year with violent, communal conflicts remaining the primary source of security disturbances.

"The prediction from authorities in political, legal and security matters is that there will be an escalation in the years ahead. This will be a serious challenge," Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto said after a Cabinet meeting at the Bogor Palace on Monday.

Djoko said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had ordered officials in the central government to engage in close cooperation with local governments to step up measures to prevent the outbreak of communal conflicts.

Yudhoyono convened a Cabinet meeting on Monday to discuss security for 2013. Among the ministers and high-raking officials who joined the meeting were National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo, Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Adm. Agus Suhartono, National Intelligence Agency chief Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman and Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi.

Djoko said that Yudhoyono had ordered local governments to prepare plans of action to deal with possible security problems.

"The National Police and the TNI, they usually have maps of conflicts and they have an integrated plan to deal with them. The map should be broken down to the provincial or municipal level," Joko said.

In the Cabinet meeting, Yudhoyono said that he was concerned with the outbreak of communal conflicts in 2012, adding that he was aware that the public was dissatisfied with the government's performance in maintaining security. "The public has not been satisfied with [the way we handled] legal and security problems," Yudhoyono said.

The President also said that he was disappointed with the performance of security and legal authorities in dealing with the conflicts. "We have seen an escalation in communal conflicts or horizontal clashes. And as I said before, we still see cases where no action has been taken," Yudhoyono said.

The President pledged that the government would improve its performance in maintaining security for 2013. He also said that his office was preparing a new decree that would allow for more drastic measures to deal with security problems throughout the country.

A number of violent conflicts rocked the country in 2012, including October's three-day clash between two communities in Lampung that left 14 people dead and forced the evacuation of dozens of others.

The clash involved Balinese villagers who migrated to the province during the New Order period and members of the local ethnic community.

On New Year's Eve last week, a bloody, inter-village clash took place in West Seram, Maluku, killing five and injuring eight.