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In Papua, the only region of Indonesia where violence actively continues a decade after the democratisation process began, a different peacebuilding model has been applied, with partial success. Limited international interest in the conflict, great national pressure to retain territorial control, and the perceived high risks of the conflict to national security, have led to a highly militarised illiberal peacebuilding model, but with some liberal adjustments.

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The central government responded by reorganising political and economic power locally, centralising it in the hands of local bureaucrats that it trusted, and marginalising those it did not. In confidential interviews, central government officials explained that the intention of their emergency policy was to “buy back in” local elites. If the central government enabled access to the emergency aid budget – the least monitored part of the local government budget – they could restore local elite support. Restoring the status quo and then shoring it up via the creation of unfettered budgetary control was a means to ensure both security and political stability. It was an unpalatable – but not disastrous – option. As De Waal (2009, 2010) has demonstrated for Sudan and Afghanistan, this political marketplace approach is the approach chosen by many national elites negotiating complex and fragile transitions.

22/06/2012 · Part 2: Understanding Illiberal Peacebuilding Models: Government Responses to Ending Mass Violence in Indonesia
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Many questions remain: Are illiberal, or hybrid, peacebuilding models sometimes better at securing post-war peace, even at the cost of other liberal values? Under what conditions is this true? What are the costs of illiberal or hybrid peacebuilding models, and are they worth it? These questions lie at the heart of my wider research project on endings to mass violence in Indonesia.

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The patterns of corruption and patronage established in post-conflict North Maluku were not at all accidental. The capture of emergency aid budgets by trusted local officials was part of a deliberate strategy by the central government, combing security and patronage, to rebuild national cohesion and stability in the wake of mass violence. In this particular case, it worked: mass violence ended and the local government was stabilised.

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I have argued here that Indonesia successfully applied an illiberal model of peacebuilding to end mass violence in North Maluku during its contested democratic transition. Even within Indonesia, the government’s peacebuilding model varied depending on the context of the local conflict. Depending on the perceived level of threat posed by the conflict to national security, the policy tools politically acceptable to the national government at the time, and the degree of international pressure, the government adjusted its model accordingly.

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An issue requiring further research is the question of which of these models produces the best long-term chances of securing peace. To date, Sri Lanka has achieved a highly illiberal but relatively stable peace; whereas Timor Leste’s peace is fragile and erratic, and persists only with Australia’s continued military presence. Is Indonesia somewhere in between these two? Furthermore, what are the consequences of these models for achieving other democratic goals at the local level, such as political reform and reduced corruption? Does one form of peace undermine another? These are some of the questions I will explore in my further research on endings to mass violence in Indonesia.