Former Councilor Blasts Aceh’s Push for a ‘Supreme Leader’

Banda Aceh, TAG. A former councilor in Aceh has denounced plans by the provincial legislature to appoint an Islamic supreme leader, or Wali Nanggroe, saying it would be tantamount to establishing a monarchy.
Mukhlis Mukhtar, who served on the Aceh People’s Representative Council (DPRA) from 2004-09, said on Wednesday that a new Shariah bylaw seeking to give the Wali overriding powers over the region would be dangerous.
“It makes the Wali the ultimate authority,” he said. “[He would have] the power to fire the governor and dissolve the provincial legislature.”
The draft proposal is redundant anyway, he added, since the DPRA passed a bylaw, or qanun, last year that defined the Wali’s functions and powers.
Under the qanun, the Wali is defined as a nonpolitical post whose functions are strictly confined to cultural, religious and traditional affairs.
The bylaw also requires the leader to be elected by a council of 500 religious and community elders.
Mukhlis said the provincial government spent Rp 4 billion ($445,000) on research — including study trips to Malaysia, Sweden and the Netherlands — before the bylaw was passed last year.
The qanun took effect 30 days after it was passed, even though Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf did not give it his seal of approval. No one, however, has been elected to fill the Wali post.
Mukhlis said the new DPRA draft was significantly different from the first bylaw and threatened to turn Aceh into a de facto monarchy.
“[The new draft] says the position should be a hereditary one just like a king, and not up for election,” he said.
Mukhlis said the new bylaw, if passed, would not only violate the Constitution, but also the Helinski peace agreement signed in August 2005.
The agreement, which ended the decades-long insurgency in Aceh, contained a provision that framed the Wali’s role as ceremonial.
The agreement states: “The institution of Wali Nanggroe with all its ceremonial attributes and entitlements will be established.”
Mukhlis said passing the new bylaw would set a bad precedent. “The [councilors] should obey the bylaw that they themselves passed, and not just scrap it for something new,” he said.
Though criticized by the public and several district heads in Aceh, members of the provincial legislature said the draft bylaw had to be passed because the previous qanun, unsigned by the governor, was invalid.
The DPRA also said expanding the Wali’s powers was allowed under Aceh’s status as a special autonomous province.[]
Former Councilor Blasts Aceh’s Push for a ‘Supreme Leader’ Former Councilor Blasts Aceh’s Push for a ‘Supreme Leader’ Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on December 15, 2010 Rating: 5

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