Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The government has asserted that there is no room for any call of referendum in any region of Indonesia, amid reports that some groups in Aceh are demanding referendum on independence for the country's westernmost province.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said on Friday that the country's laws no longer accommodated acts of referendum and therefore there was no legal basis for any party to demand such a thing.
A 1983 decree issued by the People's Consultative Assembly on referendum was revoked in 1998. At the same time, Law No. 6/1999 has also annulled Law No. 5/1985 on referendum, the security chief said.
"There is no room for any referendum in Indonesia's law, so [the call for independence] is no longer relevant," Wiranto told journalists on Friday.
Wiranto went on to say that calls for a referendum were somewhat typical in regions that had seen separatist movements seeking independence in the past, such as in Aceh and Papua.
Pro-referendum calls in Aceh surfaced recently following a statement by Muzakir Manaf, a former Free Aceh Movement (GAM) military commander and the chairman of local Aceh Party, that insinuated a call for a referendum in the autonomous region.
The calls came shortly after the 2019 general election, when incumbent Joko "Jokowi" Widodo defeated presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto but failed to win majority votes in the sharia-based province.
The former Army general secured 85.59 percent of the vote in Aceh, mostly thanks to a coalition between Prabowo's Gerindra Party and the Aceh Party, which is powered and run by former GAM combatants at the local level.
Wiranto suspected that Muzakir's call for referendum in the province might be related to a political motive, including the former Aceh deputy governor's disappointment following defeat in the 2017 Aceh gubernatorial election.