Preventing a conflict relapse in Indonesia (Central Sulawesi)


Stability in Central Sulawesi was restored, ending the intercommunal conflict and preventing a conflict relapse.

In January 2002, a month after the Malino Declaration ended the fighting in Central Sulawesi, over 4,000 Indonesian troops and police were stationed in Poso and Morowali districts. The extent of this deployment meant that, initially at least, there was one member of the government security forces for every 100 residents in the area.1 These personnel served to prevent disputes from escalating into violence, provided security to the local population (although some human rights abuses were recorded), and began disarming the various armed groups that had emerged around Poso since 1998. Despite these efforts, a major threat to the fragile peace resurfaced after troop numbers were drawn down in July 2002. A series of bombings preceded a planned attack on a predominantly Christian town in Poso in August, while the two commissions established to oversee the implementation of the Malino Declaration began their first evaluations, costing the lives of 13 people and threatening to reignite the conflict.2 In the wake of the October 2002 bombings in Bali, the Indonesian security forces stepped up their campaign in Central Sulawesi, utilising anti-terrorism laws to track down and arrest those responsible for the post-Malino attacks with demonstrable results. Combined with the ongoing disarmament campaign, this served to end much of the intercommunal violence in Poso and brought stability to the area after four years of uncertainty.

The 2005 election for local governor and deputy governor positions constituted the first major test of the peace being built in Central Sulawesi after the Malino Declaration. At a series of meetings between Christian and Muslim leaders and the provincial branch of the Indonesian electoral commission prior to the contest, all parties agreed to pursue peaceful campaigns. In addition, an informal agreement was reached by which all parties agreed to ensure that every slate of candidates on the ballot was composed of a Christian and a Muslim, guaranteeing a de facto consociational power-sharing arrangement regardless of the outcome of the election.3 These efforts were matched by civil society groups, which hosted regular public meetings and interreligious fora. Despite some tense moments amid widespread protests, the election went ahead peacefully.4 In January 2007, Indonesian security forces arrested several key terrorist leaders and uncovered hidden caches of arms and explosives in Poso. This action brought about ‘a stark and immediate improvement in security in Poso’ and significantly minimised the risk of a conflict relapse.5

1 McRae. A Few Poorly Organised Men. p.110

2 Ibid. p.116

3 Graham Brown & Rachael Diprose. “Bare-Chested Politics in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia: The Dynamics of Local Elections in a ‘Post’-Conflict Region.” CRISE Working Paper, No. 37. (2007) p.10

4 Ibid. p.16

5 McRae. A Few Poorly Organised Men. pp.129-30

Start Year


End Year



Central Sulawesi, Indonesia

UN Regional Group


Type of Conflict

Risk of a conflict relapse

Type of Initiative

Local action, Military intervention, Peace infrastructure

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

The Government of Indonesia, local people and organisations




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