Thu, 13 Apr 2000

Assembly to reprimand, impeach Gus Dur

JAKARTA (JP): The People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) will reprimand President Abdurrahman Wahid for his shortcomings but it has no plan to initiate an impeachment process at this stage, House Speaker Akbar Tandjung said on Wednesday.

Akbar told reporters that he did not see the urgency of convening an emergency MPR session at this time, and that the Assembly would meet in August as scheduled.

The only time the House leadership could call for an emergency session would be if the President was deemed to have breached a law or departed from the State Policy Guidelines, he said.

The August MPR session, however, would look at the performance of President Abdurrahman's administration, he said.

"The Assembly could issue a stern warning if the President was deemed to have failed to make any progress. It could also set out measures that he would have to follow," Akbar said.

MPR chairman Amien Rais separately ruled out an impeachment but promised that he and his National Mandate Party (PAN) would be harsh in evaluating the administration's performance.

Amien said since he was the one who pushed Abdurrahman's candidacy in the presidential election in October, he felt it was his duty to continue reminding the President.

Abdurrahman has come under a lot of criticism in recent weeks from various parties. Some have criticized the slow progress of the economy and others for his plan to end a 35-year-old ban on communism.

Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah, a Muslim organization which is preparing to send volunteers to strife-torn Maluku, urged Akbar on Monday to consider impeaching the President.

The MPR is scheduled to convene in August, primarily to discuss amending the Constitution.

Akbar disclosed that he met with Abdurrahman last week, shortly before the latter left on an overseas trip, to discuss various issues, including the slow pace of Indonesia's economic recovery.

"The government has made significant progress in restoring political instability but it has done little in repairing the economy," Akbar said. "Without an economic recovery, political stability won't last long."

Akbar also praised the President for making progress in the national reconciliation process, the enforcement of the law and various investigations into alleged corruption, including one involving former president Soeharto.

He said he had also implored Abdurrahman to refrain from making any more controversial statements and to back down on his call to end the ban on communism.

"It benefits no one if the President keeps initiating controversies. It will only sow political instability and affect people's confidence in the government," he said.

On lifting the communism ban, Akbar said the proposal did not find support among the majority of Muslims in Indonesia.

But if Abdurrahman insisted on his plan, he should secure the support of a faction in the House which would then bring it up for discussion, Akbar said. (rms)