Wed, 15 Mar 2000

Gus Dur reveals coup attempt

JAKARTA (JP): The uneasy relationship between President Abdurrahman Wahid and the Indonesian Military (TNI) was again highlighted on Tuesday with the revelation of a coup attempt by some regional military commanders.

Speaking on state TVRI's "Coffee Morning with Gus Dur", broadcast live on Tuesday morning, the President said he was not worried at all about the generals' rebellion attempt, saying the majority of the people remained fully behind him.

"I know that several Pangdam (territorial military commander) are working to mobilize anti-Gus Dur forces. It is really happening. However, I don't worry about it at all because I believe that the people are behind me," said Abdurahman, who is popularly called Gus Dur.

As usual, Abdurrahman did not give more details. This is at least the second time he has made allegations of this kind since becoming president.

While on a visit to the Netherlands early last month, he said that a group of generals had held a secret meeting on Jl. Lautze, Central Jakarta, with the intention of toppling his government.

"I believe 'dirty hands' are behind this," Abdurrahman said at the time.

The country is divided into 11 military commands (Kodam), four of which are on Java and two on Sumatra.

TNI announced a major reshuffle on Nov. 4, shortly before Gen. Wiranto handed over his post as TNI chief to Adm. Widodo A.S., in which seven regional military commanders were replaced.

Among them was Maj. Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu, the son-in-law of former vice president Gen. Try Sutrisno, who replaced Maj. Gen. Djadja Suparman as Jakarta Military commander. Ryamizard was replaced by Maj. Gen. Sudi Silalahi as Brawijaya Military chief, which oversees East Java and Madura.

Djadja, who was promoted to the head of the Army's Strategic Command, lost his position to Maj. Gen. Agus Wirahadikusumah early this month. Agus was in charge of security in Sulewesi for three months from December.

" It is the government's duty to prevent the actions of those who try and distract it," said the President.

The President said certain groups in society were not happy with his government because of his actions to enforce the law and combat corruption.

Abdurrahman also pointed his finger at the press, including the foreign media, saying they were responsible for spreading irresponsible and even slanderous stories about him, including on the role of his daughter Zannuba Arifah "Yeni" Chafsoh.

"There are also other ways, I'm sorry to say ... journalists do thoughtless things," the President remarked.

He deplored a recent report in a foreign magazine that described him as regularly receiving businessmen who ask him for privileges.

"There is a foreign magazine that reported I receive businessmen every night who ask for facilities," the President said.

Meanwhile, Salim Said, a senior military observer, said the President should take stern measures if he has accurate information on the territorial military commanders behind the coup.

"I don't know about the military commanders, but if the President has accurate data he should take action rather than make controversial statements that confuse the people," he said here on Tuesday.

He said he did not doubt the president's power to take action against dissident commanders.

"If the President could move Maj. Gen. Agus Wirahadikusumah from Ujungpandang to be the chief of the Army's Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad) and Lt. Gen. Suaidi Marasabessy, he will be able to do so with the commanders," he said.

In Atambua, East Nusa Tenggara, visiting Rear Marshal Graito Usodo, spokesman for the Indonesian Military (TNI), said he did not know who the President was speaking about and would check it with the Army chief.

"I have been here all day long and I do not know what the President was speaking about exactly. If the President said that there was a military command chief who was organizing people to topple his government, I will check on it with the Army chief," he said.

He said he was surprised that the President made such a controversial statement and did not know the background behind it. (prb/rms/lem)