Thu, 25 May 2000

Critics not after accountability of president: Amien

JAKARTA (JP): The likelihood of a political confrontation that could topple the government looks increasingly distant after President Abdurrahman Wahid's harshest critic affirmed that the coming People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) would only demand a "progress report" from the president.

Assembly Speaker Amien Rais continued to tone down his rhetoric against Abdurrahman saying on Wednesday that the general session from Aug. 5 to 12 would not be turned into an extraordinary session which would demand a presidential accountability.

"The president will only be asked to deliver a progress report," Amien said. "Not an accountability," he added

Amien even went so far as to say that Abdurrahman's report to the Assembly would be nothing like former president B.J. Habibie's accountability speech in October last year.

"The president in August will only be asked to explain the government's progress which will then be evaluated by the MPR," he explained.

"If judgment (of the MPR) of the president and his Cabinet is not favorable, it doesn't necessarily mean that he will have to step down."

Amien continued his conciliatory tone after a much publicized truce with Abdurrahman late last month.

In earlier weeks Amien voiced harsh criticism of the president saying he would not hesitate to 'pinch' the president's ear and even suggested the possibility of an Assembly special session should Abdurrahman go ahead with his proposal to scrap the 34- year ban on communism.

But in the past two weeks Amien seems to have toned down his "attacks" against the president.

Amien even remarked on Wednesday that even if a majority of Assembly members were dissatisfied with the progress report, it would not signal the end of his term.

"Though over 50 percent of the MPR think the president's work is poor, it would only mean the president gets a red mark on his report card."

"Just because a student get a red mark on his report card it doesn't necessarily mean that he will be dismissed. It's precisely for that reason that he should be told so he can improve his record," Amien said.

House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung also stressed that there was little threat of unseating the president in the coming session.

"I have to stress that so far, the House has not seen the president violate the Constitution," he said.

He added that apart from the president, the Supreme Advisory Council and State Audit Board would also be asked to present a progress report during the session. (mds)