Kalla ready to play role as peace broker

Kalla ready to play role as peace broker

The Jakarta Post,
Andi Hajramurni, The Jakarta Post, Makassar

Outgoing Vice President Jusuf Kalla said he would be willing to continue his role as peacebroker to help the government settle sectarian conflicts in the future.

Kalla played an important role in settling the sectarian conflict in Poso and Ambon and the secessionism in Aceh,

Addressing his remarks during the inauguration of a building belonging to the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) on Saturday, Kalla said despite his absence in the next government, he would be available to settle sectarian conflicts for the nation's unity.

"I will voluntarily and actively participate with the government and the people to preserve peace because it is our common responsibility as citizens."

Yet Kalla recently rejected President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's offer of a special task in the next government, saying he would use his remaining time to establish a social foundation to build his home province and his family business.

Kalla who was nominated by his Golkar Party and the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), which gained more than 20 percent of the votes in the April 9 legislative elections, was defeated in the July 8 presidential election.

He also stressed the important role of the President in settling sectarian conflicts and maintaining peace in provinces such as Aceh, Papua, Maluku, Central Kalimantan and Central Sulawesi.

"Besides the President, the people also need to increase their participation in order to preserve the unity and brotherhood in the society at large."

Kalla said that peace could only be attained if the government managed to significantly improve the people's welfare in conflict-prone regions and fulfill their basic rights such as easy access to education and health.

"The government also must continuously develop labor intensive industries to address the unem-ployment that has reached alarming levels."

Kalla said that the conflicts in Ambon and Poso had no relation to religious issues at all and they had a lot to do with the social disparity.

"The conflicts were caused by economic disparity. Religious issues were only used as a mere instrument. That's why people's welfare had to be improved if we wanted to avoid conflicts or settle existing ones."

Kalla also said that he wanted religious leaders from all religions to stop preaching hatred against other faiths' followers.

He said instead they should promote and campaign for love, peace and brotherhood.

"Islamic leaders must continuously say Assalamu'alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh to their followers, and so is the case with Christian leaders by saying Shalom. Both terms mean the same, which is to pray for other people's safety."

Kalla said he hoped the current peaceful conditions among religious followers in the South Sulawesi region could be preserved for a long time to come.

Kalla was, in fact, one of the founders of an inter-religion forum in South Sulawesi along with several religious leaders.

The forum was one of the vital instrument that facilitated the peace-negotiating process during the Poso conflict.

PGI chairman for the Sulselbara regions, Paul Patanduk, said that they still wanted Kalla to be an active part of the forum.

"We want Pak Kalla to stay together with us to preserve peace among religious followers, like when he initiated this forum 10 years ago."

Sulawesi, especially Poso, has been plagued by Muslim-Christian violence between 1999 and 2005.


The Jakarta Post Monday, September 28, 2009

Kosgoro may support Aburizal

JAKARTA: A Golkar Party-affiliated business group, known as Kosgoro, kicked off its national caucus on Friday to determine its final position for the party congress in Pekanbaru.

The group's chairman, Agung Laksono, who is also one of Golkar's deputy chairmen, said the meeting was aimed at determining the group's preference for the party leader who will replace Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

"The next chairman will play a pivotal role in helping Golkar regain its past glory.

"Therefore, he must fulfill a number of criteria. For example, he must be willing to fully concentrate on his job and he must also have an impressive list of accomplishments either in one of the party's mass organizations or professional organizations," Agung said.

Agung did not specify any names during his speech, but later told reporters that he favored Aburizal to win the chairmanship.