Gus Dur installs new Army, Navy chiefs
JAKARTA (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid installed on Monday Gen. Endriartono Sutarto as Army chief of staff replacing Gen. Tyasno Sudarto who will be assigned to a desk-job at the Indonesian Military (TNI) headquarters.
Endriartono, a 1971 graduate of the National Military Academy, who was chief of Presidential Security Guards in the last years of former president Soeharto, was sworn in to his new post by Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri in a ceremony at the State Palace.
Megawati also swore in Adm. Indroko Sastrowiryono, a 1971 graduate of the Navy Academy, as Navy chief of staff replacing Adm. Ahmad Sutjipto.
Endriartono and Indroko were former deputies of the Army and Navy respectively and both were promoted to four-star generals just hours before the swearing-in ceremony.
Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Endriartono denied speculation that prior to Monday's ceremony, there was a tough "political tug-of-war" between the President and the military leadership over the candidate for the Army's top post.
Many were suspicious that no formal announcement was made prior to Monday's ceremony. In the past, the government used to make an announcement prior to the swearing in ceremony for top military officers.
Endriartono said the government did not announce the replacement as it was considered "routine".
"The military secretary considered the replacement as a routine activity so that it was unnecessary to announce it over the weekend," Endriartono said, referring to one of President's secretaries, Rear Marshal Budhy Santoso.
The replacement of Tyasno and Ahmad Sutjipto adds to the number of active non-structural generals in the military headquarters. They include former Army chief Gen. Subagyo Hadisiswoyo and former deputy TNI chief Gen. Fachrul Razi.
Endriartono, who has spent most of his career on military operations and territorial commands, revealed that the decision to name him as Tyasno's successor had been made on Friday evening.
"I was summoned by the TNI chief (Adm. Widodo A.S.) on Friday evening and told about the decision. I was then summoned by the President on Saturday morning," Endriartono said.
Rumors were rife that the President's choice for the Army's top position was not Endriartono, but former chief of the Army's Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) Lt. Gen. Agus Wirahadikusumah. But Agus's nomination reportedly received strong opposition from some 46 Army generals.
In his speech on Monday, Abdurrahman said the military had the difficult job of maintaining the territorial integrity of the country.
"Therefore an enormous strength is needed to maintain the territorial integrity of our country, both in terms of combat as well as administrative skills," Abdurrahman said.
But the President stressed the strengthening of the military was not politically motivated.
"The developing of power is not meant for (promoting) militarism because militaristic attitudes have been crushed and I'm sure they no longer exist," he added.
Endriartono pledged "firm" but "proportional" sanctions on soldiers who violated the law or the military code of conduct.
The statement came amid reports that Agus Wirahadikusumah and Maj. Gen. Saurip Kadi would be brought before an Officers Honorary Council for disciplinary charges.
Both men were summoned by the Army leadership last week to explain their recent actions: Agus for being absent without leave (AWOL) and Saurip for publishing a book about the military's activities without the Army's permission.
Agus lost his post as Kostrad chief in August in the middle of an investigation into allegations of corruption in the command by his predecessors.
Saurip was the assistant for territorial affairs to the Army chief of staff when he lost his post in April amid rumors that he took part in a clandestine meeting to plan massive changes in the military leadership.
Endriartono said the two would only be brought before the honorary council if there was enough preliminary evidence against them.
When asked about the candidate for his deputy, Endriartono said that the matter was still being discussed by Wanjakti (Council for high-ranking promotions and duty rotations).
As Agus Wirahadikusumah has missed the bout for Army's top leadership, he was rumored to be the strongest candidate for the deputy Army chief post. Also mentioned was Kostrad chief Lt. Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu. (byg/imn)