Thursday, April 1, 1999 Published at 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Indonesian police lose army grip
Police have been accused of standing by during riots
Indonesia's police force is to separate from the army in an attempt to make it more independent and shed its militaristic role.
The police currently make up around half of the 440,000 armed forces personnel. But they are widely regarded as corrupt and ineffective by many Indonesians, say correspondents.
Sceptics have denounced the reform as cosmetic, saying that the police will still be under the command of General Wiranto, defence minister and head of Indonesia's armed forces.
But General Wiranto has said that in time it is "very possible" for the police to be under the command of the president or the home affairs ministry.
The police first lost their independent status under the rule of the former leader, President Suharto, who was overthrown last May.
Correspondents say supporters of the reform hope the police will adopt a less militaristic and more professional style in controlling the bloodshed and communal rioting sweeping Indonesia.
The BBC's Jonathan Head said that human rights activists hope an independent police force will move from heavy handed repression to more conventional duties such as community policing.
Correspondents say that separating the police from the army is just a small part of the solution to Indonesia's chronic law and order problems.
Corruption in the armed forces is said to be endemic with many police officers openly collecting bribes instead of impartially enforcing the law.