Traditional village heads or raja are key symbolic figures in local tra-ditional structures and the center of attention in decentralization and peacebuilding discourses in Maluku. In 2008, Ambon City became the stage for a gathering of traditional village heads from all over the Moluccan Province — all dressed in their traditional clothes. In the city’s major community hall, Baileo Siwalima, a council called Latupati Council Maluku (Majelis Latupati Maluku, MLM) was established with pomp and glory. The MLM is supposed to be an overarching adat insti-tution, apolitical and independent from the government, and meant to unite the more than 500 traditional village heads of Maluku Province. Considering the vastness of the Moluccan archipelago, this is quite a revolutionary and unique project. The MLM was clearly born out of a marriage of the Moluccan conflict and the implementation of the decen-tralization laws of the post-Suharto era that were meant to re-empower local political structures and traditional leaders. It is supposed to act as a cultural means for reintegrating the ideologically divided and scattered Moluccan society.
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