Freedom in the World
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s (SBY) Democratic Party led legislative elections in April 2009, and Yudhoyono secured a second term in the July presidential election. Security forces in September killed terrorism suspect Noordin Mohammad Top, the alleged mastermind of twin suicide bombings that had struck hotels in the capital in July. Separately, the chief of Indonesia’s anticorruption commission went on trial for murder during the year, and two of his deputies were accused of extortion, but their case led to the exposure of an apparent conspiracy by police and prosecutors to undermine the commission. The parliament passed legislation in September that would weaken the authority of the commission and a related anticorruption court. In addition, the parliament began investigating a controversial bailout of Bank Century in November, which pitted the House of Representatives against the SBY administration and shrunk his ruling coalition.
In Papua, where the central government’s exploitation of natural resources has stirred resentment and demands for independence, rallies of between 5,000 and 10,000 people were mounted in three cities in October 2009 to express dissatisfaction with economic development and alleged human rights abuses by the military. The development of oil-palm plantations has also brought an influx of non-Papuan workers and firms, prompting land disputes, and tension has increased between local Christians and non-Papuan Muslim communities. The Free Papua Movement (OPM) has waged a low-grade insurgency since the early 1950s. Politically-motivated violence increased in the latter half of 2009; the OPM claimed responsibility for some of the violence, including incidents in which it had no direct role. Unresolved violence surrounding the province’s Grasberg gold mine increased in July and continued through the end of the year, with several attacks on mining personnel and Brimob, the Indonesian paramilitary police. Several shooting incidents were also reported, killing at least eight people, including three foreign nationals. In December, Kelly Kwalik, head of the West Papuan National Liberation Army (TPN) of the OPM, was killed by Indonesian police.
Indonesia is an electoral democracy. In 2004, for the first time, Indonesians directly elected their president and all members of the House of Representatives (DPR), as well as members of a new legislative body, the House of Regional Representatives (DPD). Previously, presidents had been elected by the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), then made up of elected lawmakers and appointed officials. The MPR now performs tasks involving the swearing in and dismissal of presidents and the amendment of the constitution, and consists of elected DPR and DPD members. The DPR, which expanded from 550 seats in 2004 to 560 in 2009, is the main parliamentary chamber. The 132-member DPD is responsible for proposing and monitoring laws related to regional autonomy. Presidents and vice presidents can serve up to two five-year terms, and all legislators also serve five-year terms.