Wed, 22 Jan 2003

Govt looking for actors behind street rallies

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja and Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government has moved to look for possible masterminds behind the rowdy street rallies against the utility and fuel price hikes, which appear to be turning into a movement to topple the government.

Shortly after receiving a delegation from the National Awakening Party under Alwi Shihab at her residence on Jl. Teuku Umar, Central Jakarta, President Megawati Soekarnoputri held an unscheduled meeting with Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto and National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar to discuss the issue.

A source close to the President told The Jakarta Post that Megawati had asked her top security advisers about the possible involvement in the rallies of former TNI chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto, National Mandate Party (PAN) lawmaker and former finance minister Fuad Bawazier, former cooperatives minister and current chairman of the Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI) Adi Sasono and the chairman of the Bung Karno Nationalist Party, Eros Djarot.

The three senior officials left Megawati's residence speechless.

Fuad, who chairs the Islamic Student Alumni Community (KAHMI), has been singled out by the deputy chairman of Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), Roy B.B. Janis, as a possible actor behind the demonstrations.

Wiranto, and Eros, who left the PDI Perjuangan over his disappointment with Megawati, have each talked about a presidium to take over from the current government.

It was also reported that the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief A.M. Hendropriyono disclosed the names of the four figures during Monday's Cabinet meeting and planned to clarify the report with them some time this week.

Both Adi and Eros denied on Tuesday allegations that they were behind the nationwide rallies.

Adi condemned the government for failing to learn from the New Order's mistakes by seeking to scapegoat third parties instead of rectifying its own mistakes.

"This afternoon, I tried to clarify with officials from BIN about whether or not their superiors wanted to question me, but they said they had no such plans.

"They also refused to discuss the issue further," Adi told a press conference.

Separately, Eros said the allegations were ridiculous and asked how it would be possible for him to work together with other people "who have a different political platform from me". He was referring to Wiranto, Fuad and Adi.

Responding to the heightening political tension between the government and its critics, People's Consultative Assembly Speaker Amien Rais suggested on Tuesday that Wiranto, Adi, Fuad and Eros meet with BIN officials for talks to examine the accuracy of the allegations.

Amien, who is also the PAN chairman, asserted that the public had a right to know the basis for the allegations in order to prevent unfounded suspicions from arising.

Susilo has twice warned of "certain parties" being behind the antigovernment rallies, whose final goal was to replace the current administration. He also announced that there was a scenario to create martyrs among the protesters, including students.

The minister described the "certain parties" as being radical religious and leftist groups, and those suffering from what he described as "post-power syndrome".