Tue, 01 Aug 2000

Agus W.K. removed from Kostrad

JAKARTA (JP): Lt. Gen. Agus Wirahadikusumah, a controversial Army figure, was replaced as the chief of the Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) on Monday after only four months on the job.

The announcement by the Indonesian Military (TNI) ended weeks of speculations about the fate of Agus, whom many insiders regard as too brash in his campaign to reform the military, to pull it out of politics and to uproot the alleged corruption of his seniors.

Agus, 49, is being reassigned to the Indonesian Military (TNI) headquarters without any specific job.

Chief of the Jakarta Military Command Maj. Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu has been appointed to fill the position.

TNI chief spokesman Rear Air Marshall Graito Usodo, who announced the latest round of reshuffles affecting eight Army officers, cautioned against reading too much into the changes.

They were made after taking into account organizational needs and the career development of the officers, he said. "Everybody can make their own interpretation, but the main reasons are for personnel and organizational developments," Graito said.

The other new appointments were:

* Maj. Gen. Slamet Kirbiyantoro, currently chief of the Wirabuana Military Command overseeing Sulawesi, as the new chief of the Jakarta Military Command.

* Maj. Gen. Achmad Yahya, currently coordinator of the Army's expert staff, as the new chief of the Wirabuana Command.

* Brig. Gen. Husni Thamrin, currently the Wirabuana Command's chief of staff, as the coordinator of the Army's expert staff.

* Col. Mustopo, an expert staff member to the Army Chief of Staff, as the new chief of staff of the Wirabuana Command.

* Brig. Gen. Romulo Simbolon, currently chief of staff of the Jakarta Military Command, has been reassigned to the TNI Headquarters without any specific post.

* Col. Lintang Waluyo, currently an Army expert staff member to the Army Chief of Staff, as the new chief of staff of the Jakarta Military Command.

Kostrad had already sent out invitations on Monday for the handover ceremony from Agus to Ryamizard scheduled for Tuesday morning.

Lt. Gen. Agus W.K., as he is popularly known to distinguish him from TNI Chief for Territorial Affairs Lt. Agus Widjojo, was one of the Army and political figures who took part in the "clandestine" meeting in Bulak Rantai in East Jakarta in April to push for changes in the Army's leadership.

While top Army officers have gone to great lengths to deny the existence of such a meeting, most of those who were present have been removed from their posts, giving credence to the rumors.

Bondan Gunawan, a close aide of President Abdurrahman Wahid, lost his powerful post as secretary of state. Maj. Gen. Saurip Kadi, who hosted the meeting, was removed from his job as territorial assistant to the Army Chief of Staff.

Romulo Simbolon, who lost his job as chief of staff of the Jakarta Military Command in Monday's reshuffle, also reportedly took part in that meeting.

Agus' latest maneuver which ired his peers and seniors was the unveiling of massive corruption in Kostrad that directly implicated his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Djadja Suparman.

Tempo reported on Monday that the auditing of Kostrad's finances found many irregularities, including Rp 190 billion (US$21 million) that was spent by Djadja.

Agus drew attention when he called on the TNI to quit politics and return soldiers to the barracks in 1998. He was subsequently banished to Sulawesi as the military chief there, away from the center of power.

He was again condemned early this by his seniors for openly criticizing Gen. Wiranto, then coordinating minister for political affairs, but at Abdurrahman's recommendation, he was brought back to Jakarta as Kostrad chief in March.

Agus said on Monday he accepted the decision to replace him.

When asked about the reason behind the decision, he believed that there was some "misunderstanding" about his campaign to audit Kostrad finances.

"I never leaked the audit results. I never mentioned any names, or the amount involved. I never referred to them as corruption, but irregularities," he told reporters.

The decision to replace Agus was made during a meeting of Wanjakti, a TNI council for high-ranking promotions and duty rotations, at the recommendation of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Tyasno Sudarto, Graito said.

TNI Chief Adm. Widodo A.S. and Gen. Tyasno have informed President Abdurrahman of the decisions, in keeping with the rules that promotions of senior officers to TNI strategic posts should be discussed with the head of state beforehand, Graito said.

Agus said he received the official notification from Lt. Gen. Endriartono Sutarto, the Army's deputy chief of staff on Saturday. (dja)