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Megawati Calls for Civilian Militias to Curb Rebels

President Megawati Sukarnoputri yesterday called for civilian militias to be set up in Indonesia as the military and police struggle to contain insurgencies and widespread lawlessness in the country. Her comments – which sparked concern among human rights groups here because of fears that they could lead to the re-emergence of vigilante outfits that ran riot in Timor Leste in 1999 – appeared to be a move by Jakarta to up the ante in its battle against separatists in Aceh. Her detractors charge that her suggestion also underscored a political motive – legitimising the use of ‘muscle politics’ to clinch the presidential election next year. In a televised speech to thousands of officers celebrating National Police Day, Ms Megawati said: ‘Nowadays, as we watch conditions in certain parts of our country… we need to seriously consider and adopt sufficient measures so that citizens can defend themselves.’ The concern, as the President made clear, was that security forces were strapped for manpower and resources to fight a battle on many fronts in the sprawling archipelago. Full Story

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