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Much Ado About PrepCom

Largest Conference in Bali's History Now Underway.

(6/3/2002) The Preparatory Committee Meeting - Prepcom IV on Sustainable Development is now officially underway in Bali - the largest event in Bali's history thrust upon the island just two months ago when President Megawati Soekarnoputri suddenly shifted the meeting from its original venue of Jakarta.

The Conference, which will involve 300 ministerial level officials from 190 member-countries of the United Nations, is expected to also draw attendance from a world-wide network of non-governmental organizations (NGO's) eager to provide their input on international development and environmental policies. In all, an estimated 6,000 -10,000 visitors to Bali are expected in connection with the event.

Preliminary meetings, attended by senior officials, are scheduled to take place between May 27 and June 4. Then, Indonesia's President Megawati Soekarnoputri and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan will present opening addresses for the ministerial level meetings set to take place June 5 - 7.

Beautification program

Roads leading from the airport to the Nusa Dua area have undergone an intensive "clean-up fix-up" campaign repairing road shoulders, drainage, and foliage along the boulevard leading to the Nusa Dua Complex - the main focus for the meetings. An additional 100 street cleaning workers have been employed to spruce up the main thoroughfares of the south island, including 50 uniformed cleaners for the Nusa Dua Complex. In anticipation of attendance by members of NGO's expected to congregate and "camp" around the main meeting venue of the Bali International Convention Center (BICC), the Bali cleaning services have contracted the services of an additional 3 dump trucks and a mobile portable toilet.

Intensive Security Preparations In Place

Over 5,000 police officers have been deployed to protect the island and its guests during the conference dates. Additional officers have been called up to help maintain peace on the island from National Headquarters in Jakarta, Jakarta, West Java, Central Java and West Nusa Tenggara police forces. Police enforcement efforts will be supplemented by an elite 25-man U.N. Security team, four Companies from the Indonesian Army, equipment and men from the Indonesian Air Force and Marine Corps, and at least one navy gun ship will be standing by off shore.

Over the past weeks, members of elite mobile police brigades have been practicing crowd control techniques and emergency contingency situations, including mock evacuations of hotels in the event of a bomb threat.

As a final guarantee of security, Denpasar's Police Chief DBM Suharya has enlisted the support of local religious leaders and the thousands of members of pacalang or traditional civilian defense force found in every Balinese banjar.

Meanwhile, Bali's Chief of Police, Brigjen Pol. Drs. Budi Setyawan, M.Sc sounded an ominous warning whilst speaking after a joint prayer meeting of the island's religious leaders where he emphasized that while primary enforcement efforts will be preventative in nature, he is not prepared to rule out the use of any repressive means at the police's disposal should they encounter any elements trying to disrupt the meetings.

Because of the threat of worldwidce terrorism. special protection services will be extended to the U.S. and Israeli delegations attending the event, both groups expected to attend with members of their own intelligence and executive protection services.

Travel Consortium Largely Ignored

Apparently, a travel consortium comprised of Royalindo Private Conference Organizers and the Bali Tourism Board is being bypassed by many of the official delegations who have made their own travel arrangements directly with local hotels and tour operators.

Reflecting this fact, only 1,500 delegate have registered for the event via the "official" Royalindo/BTC Consortium causing, somewhat surprisingly, the consortium to downgrade the number of busses ordered for transportation during the event from 150 to just 60 units.

What's On The Agenda

The Prepcom IV is the final preparatory meeting leading up to the Earth Summit scheduled for Johannesburg later this year, a meeting sometimes referred to as Rio plus 10.

Among the items slated for discussion on the ambitious agenda include: sustainable development; IMF policies and foreign debt rescheduling issues; good governance; and the north-south dialogue.

Stay tuned to balidiscovery.com for regular updates on Prepcom IV.