Mon, 18 Sep 2000

Gus Dur orders Soeharto's guards to be disarmed

JAKARTA (JP): After ordering the arrest of former president Soeharto's son two days ago, President Abdurrahman Wahid launched another verbal attack on him on Sunday and ordered his personal bodyguards to be disarmed.

"I have asked Bakin (the State Intelligence Coordinating Agency) chief, the Indonesian Military (TNI) and National Police chiefs to disarm former president Soeharto's bodyguards," Abdurrahman was quoted by Antara as saying.

Speaking to a gathering of religious leaders in the North Sumatra capital of Medan, Abdurrahman added that the order only included Soeharto's personal bodyguards, and not the TNI or police personnel officially stationed at Soeharto's residence in Central Jakarta.

The President also said that the order to disarm Soeharto's bodyguards was made in connection with the recent bomb attacks and sectarian violence in the country.

"There is no other way, because they pretend that they are going to use the guns for self-defense while actually (the guns) have been used to undermine the government," Abdurrahman said.

Top government officials have alleged that those loyal to the New Order regime are behind the recent wave of terrorism.

Abdurrahman said earlier that "drastic measures" against those responsible for the incidents had to be taken to prevent similar ones from taking place again.

Abdurrahman said on Friday he had ordered police to arrest Soeharto's youngest son Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra over the bombing of the Jakarta Stock Exchange.

He also said he had ordered the Jakarta Police chief to arrest Habib Ali Baagil, a member of the militant Islam Defenders Front (FPI), for his alleged involvement in the bombing of the stock exchange building.

On Sunday, Abdurrahman said he had been told by Syaifullah Yusuf, chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama's civilian militia, that Habib Ali was loyal to the President.

"I then told Syaiful to tell Habib Ali that if he is loyal (to me) then he should surrender his weapons to the police," Abdurrahman said.

"I'm giving him a week to do that".

Abdurrahman also said members of the Army were hindering a police investigation into the bombing of the Attorney General's Office in July.

"It is clear that the bomb was produced by the state munitions factory Pindad and was channeled to the army ... the National Police chief has reported to me that there were certain members of the army who objected to the investigation," he said.

He said he would order these members be questioned. He mentioned no names.

The bomb at the Attorney General's Office exploded shortly after Tommy Soeharto left the premises after being questioned by prosecutors over a corruption scam.

Abdurrahman also said that a number of people had recently visited the State Palace at night to tell him that they were not behind the violent incidents in the country.

"They said that they were not involved in this and that, and that they are loyal to me. But I just listened because I only rely on (intelligence) reports," Abdurrahman said.

In the Central Java capital of Semarang on Saturday, the President said the blast at the Jakarta Stock Exchange building, which killed at least 10 people most of whom were drivers and security guards, was a senseless act. (byg/har)