JAKARTA, Indonesia – The Indonesian government approved an emergency decree early Saturday to give itself expanded powers to fight terrorism and bring the bombers responsible for the Bali nightclub attack to justice.
Justice Minister Yusril Izha Mahendra announced the decree after a Cabinet meeting.
International pressure after last weekend's attack in Bali, which killed at least 183 people and injured more than 300, forced President Megawati Sukarnoputri's government to take long-stalled anti-terror legislation off the parliamentary back-burner and fast-track it as an emergency decree.
"After what happened in Bali, Indonesia urgently needs a law to fight terrorism," Mahendra said. "By having this decree, we have the authority to take action against terrorism."
Indonesia has been hesitant to crack down on terrorism for fear of provoking a backlash by Islamic extremists. Many Indonesians are also reluctant to give wide powers to the security forces — with their long record of brutal human rights abuses — that the fledgling democracy has struggled to rein since dictator Suharto was toppled in 1998.