Sat, 04 Aug 2001

Gen. Bimantoro reinstated as police chief

JAKARTA (JP): Gen. Surojo Bimantoro was formally reappointed on Friday to his position as National Police chief after President Megawati Soekarnoputri issued a presidential decree annulling the controversial decree suspending him, issued by former president Abdurrahman Wahid.

The move is expected to end uncertainty regarding leadership of the police force and was seen as a mere formality. In a gesture of support, Megawati symbolically returned the command baton to Bimantoro on the first day of her presidency, when he congratulated her on her appointment as president.

Megawati also annulled another disputed decree on the national police organizational structure, which revived the position of deputy police chief outgoing vice presidential secretary Bambang Kesowo said on Friday. After being appointed deputy police chief, Gen. Chaeruddin Ismail was later appointed as acting police chief.

Presidential Decree No. 61/2001 announced on Friday, stipulates that Chaeruddin's appointment has been canceled and the government is committed to resolving problems within the whole police institution as soon as possible.

"The President is now considering withdrawing former president Abdurrahman's submission requesting the House of Representatives to nominate candidates to fill the vacant position of police chief," Bambang added.

He contended that the Supreme Court, after reviewing decrees concerning reinstatement of the deputy police chief position, suggested that the decrees issued by Abdurrahman were illegal, which compelled Megawati to revoke them.

Separately, Bimantoro expressed gratitude for his reinstatement and called for unity among police officers in carrying out their routine duties.

"I hope the decision will become a base from which to consolidate and uphold discipline among fellow police officers. I call on all police officers to maintain unity," Bimantoro said.

Abdurrahman's move to dismiss Bimantoro motivated the People's Consultative Assembly to call an early special session, speeding up his removal from office.

Many believe that Abdurrahman's insistence to dismiss Bimantoro was motivated by the police chief's refusal to support the president's plan to declare a state of emergency in a last ditch attempt to stay in power.

With strong backing from the House of Representatives, Bimantoro rejected his dismissal and insisted that, legally, he was still the police chief.

Bimantoro's dismissal and the appointment of Chaeruddin had caused confusion and friction within the police force leadership.

President Megawati's move was applauded by various quarters, most notably among police authorities.

National Police deputy spokesman Sr. Comr. Edward Aritonang said he hoped Megawati's decision would end disputes regarding leadership of the police force.

"We have not yet received the decree. We will abolish the position of the deputy police chief as soon as we receive the decision," Aritonang said.

He said incumbent deputy police chief Gen. Chaeruddin Ismail would soon be reassigned. He refused to reveal whether or not Chaeruddin would be reinstated as chief of the Police Staff and Command Academy. (dja/jun)