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New military chief vows to restore security in Papua

Jakarta Globe - December 20, 2022

BTV, Jakarta – Newly-installed Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) Commander Admiral Yudo Margono said restoring order and security in Papua is one of his top priorities during his short tenure in office, as he formally received the command from predecessor General Andika Perkasa in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Yudo said he will visit the restive region in eastern Indonesia "at the first opportunity" to get firsthand knowledge of the situation before making any strategic decision.

His remarks came amid reports of increasingly deadly attacks on security personnel and civilians by Papuan militants, which the government calls "armed criminal groups" or KKB, and a day after President Joko Widodo asked him "to get tough" on those attackers during the swearing-in ceremony.

But Yudo ruled out the so-called military operation in Papua, stressing that he will continue with the current "territorial operation" instead.

"In my opinion, the current escalation there is still categorized as criminal law offenses that become police authority to deal with, but we will help enforce the law," Yudo told reporters after the handover ceremony of the military command at the TNI headquarters in East Jakarta.

But like many other regions in the Indonesian border, Papua will receive extra security enforcement together with Aceh and the Natuna waters, he said.

"Regarding the national [security] what we need to watch is regions in the border," Yudo said.

"We need to deploy forces for intensive patrols. We hope nothing will happen but we must take anticipatory measures, keeping the professionalism of land, sea, and air forces and ensuring the readiness of our weaponry system."

On Monday, the president said that the TNI needs to take a firmer approach against escalating armed attacks in Papua to prevent them from becoming a "protracted issue" in national security.

"We will evaluate the situation before I report to the president. I will visit [Papua] at the first chance I get together with the chiefs of staff to assess directly what is really happening there," Yudo said.

"The distinct characteristic of the current operation is territorial, so we don't call it a military operation, we need to underline that. We will remain to take a firm stance according to the existing laws."

The former Navy chief of staff also revealed his plan to visit the border in Aceh and Natuna.

The House of Representatives has recently approved the establishment of four new provinces in Papua, but Yudo indicated he was not in hurry to build military command in each of them.

Yudo will take command of the military for just 11 months as he reaches retirement age in November next year.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/new-military-chief-vows-to-restore-security-in-papu