Mon, 08 Mar 1999

Gus Dur presents report of people's wishes to Habibie

JAKARTA (JP): Chairman of the largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Abdurrahman Wahid met with President B.J. Habibie on Sunday to present a 300-page report of people's aspirations conveyed to him during Ramadhan.

After the meeting Minister of Justice also said the President had agreed to a clemency for political prisoner Budiman Sudjatmiko, chairman of the Democratic People's Party (PRD).

"The president has agreed to a clemency, but we need suggestions from the Supreme Court," Muladi said.

Muladi, who had announced Thursday that a number of political prisoners would be released, said the necessary documents regarding the prisoners were to be sent soon to the Supreme Court.

Budiman is serving a 13-year sentence while other PRD activists are serving lighter sentences.

Minister of Defense and Security/Armed Forces Commander Gen. Wiranto and Minister/State Secretary Akbar Tandjung were also present for a discussion held at Habibie's residence in Kuningan, South Jakarta.

The meeting, originally scheduled for Saturday evening, was changed at Abdurrahman's request.

During Ramadhan, Abdurrahman, known as Gus Dur, held a daily open house at his residence until the Idul Fitri festival which fell on Jan. 19. The report was compiled during this time.

The 300 pages was only the summary, Abdurrahman said.

The President instructed Wiranto and Muladi -- chairman and deputy chairman of the government-formed Council for Enforcement of Security and Law -- to study the report, he said.

Abdurrahman also conveyed the results of meetings held with various parties and foreign leaders during his recent visit to Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Foreign leaders were urged "to make plans to invest in Indonesia immediately after the elections", as the country would be quite safe, he said.

During the meeting he said Wiranto had assured him that problems in the ravaged Maluku province, where at least 166 have died, "could be settled within a month".

He added that, at Wiranto's request, his plan to visit Ambon would be delayed until calm returned to the province.

Abdurrahman said that Wiranto was working on problems regarding the distribution of foodstuffs in Ambon. Even though trucks of provisions are guarded, irregularities in allocation have been reported.


Abdurrahman reiterated his belief that unrest in several parts of the country, including Maluku, would end soon.

"The riots do not touch the soul (of the state)."

Separatist movements in Aceh, Irian Jaya and Maluku were not supported by the majority of the people, he said.

"It is only a small matter, but it is blown up by the press."

Following an outbreak of violence in Ambon early Saturday, several of the injured remain in hospitals, while one had died from stab wounds.

During the meeting, the President reiterated his plan to let East Timor go by Jan. 1 next year if the people and the international community reject his wide-ranging autonomy proposal for the province. He assured Abdurrahman that Indonesia would handle the transition in a responsible manner.

"During the transition period until March, the government is ready to provide assistance," Muladi confirmed. He did not provide any further details.

Muladi said the President asked Abdurrahman to convey his commitment to the people in regard to the upcoming elections.

"Fair and just elections -- at any cost -- is his political will. This is an extraordinary commitment from the government."

"We will meet the President again at an appropriate time," Abdurrahman said after the two-hour meeting.

Since returning from Germany, where he also had a health checkup, Gus Dur has met again with former president Soeharto.

He also announced a forthcoming trip to Singapore, where he will address a government think tank institution and meet with Singapore senior minister Lee Kuan Yew. (prb)