Wed, 14 Jun 2000

Impending reshuffle in TNI denied

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander Adm. Widodo A.S. poured cold water on rumors of an impending major shake-up in the Armed Forces.

Speaking at a hearing on Tuesday with House Commission I for defense, foreign and political affairs, Widodo said he had not heard of any reports regarding the reshuffle.

"I have not seen any meeting or read any document related to the planned reshuffle. If there was any, the meeting would have had no influence on us," Widodo said.

He unveiled, however, promotions for some officers in the near future, but no official announcement will be made saying "it is a common rotation".

Rumors of a meeting between top military and civilian officials aimed at accelerating a reshuffle in favor of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Tyasno Sudarto and chief of Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) Lt. Gen. Agus Wirahadikusumah have been circulating over the past few days.

Participants of the meeting reportedly approved a document called Bulak Rantai, which refers to the site of the gathering in a housing complex of senior Army officers in Kramat Jati, East Jakarta. The meeting was said to have been hosted by Maj. Gen. Saurip Kadi, the territorial assistant to Tyasno, on April 16.

Prominent attendants included Agus, Jakarta Military Command's Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Romulo Simbolon, then acting state secretary Bondan Gunawan and some student activists, according to the document.

It said the military clique was intended to cut the network of officers linked to former Kostrad chief Lt. Gen. Djadja Suparman and former TNI chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto. This, according to the document, will pave the way for Agus and Romulo to occupy key posts as Army chief of staff and Jakarta Military commander respectively.

Consequently, the document speculated Tyasno would replace Widodo and Jakarta Military Commander Maj. Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu would be promoted to Kostrad chief.

Saurip confirmed the meeting, but denied any ploy to pave the way for those military men to occupy the top posts in the Army.

"What was called Bulak Rantai was a ceremony to celebrate my rank's promotion from one-star general to two-star general," said Saurip as quoted by Tekad weekly tabloid.

Saurip denied that Bondan, often called the patron of the grouping, attended the meeting.

Bondan resigned from his post recently following reports of his alleged involvement in the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) scandal.

It was not known whether the resignation of Bondan was also linked to the disclosure of the document.

Widodo lashed out on Tuesday at media reports of the major reshuffle, saying TNI had always complied with its standard procedures in case of promotion and rotation of officers.

He said the decision concerning posts elevating officers to major generals fell entirely on the TNI council for high-ranking promotions and duty rotations (Wanjakti), while those regarding the chiefs of staff went to the President. Other promotions of senior officers to strategic posts, such as Kostrad and the Army's Special Force (Kopassus), will be decided by Wanjakti upon hearing the President's opinion.

Tyasno, who accompanied Widodo during the hearing, was tightlipped about the reports. He denied on Friday the rumors of conspiracy involving Agus and Bondan and a plan to precipitate an Army reshuffle.

Tyasno also stressed that no outside individuals could influence a military reshuffle.

On a separate occasion, Minister of Defense Juwono Sudarsono said the planned reshuffle in the Army had nothing to do with his office or his efforts to promote civilian supremacy over the military.

"The shake-up had nothing to do with my office because TNI is not under the authority of the Ministry of Defense. I do not have the right to comment on the reshuffle," Juwono said on Tuesday.

Juwono refused to elaborate further on the issue, although his office joins Wanjakti.

Meanwhile, Ryamizard denied his involvement in the reported meeting.

"I often tell my subordinates, and also myself, that we must focus on our duties and not think about others. If you are involved in the affairs of others, it will reduce you to an unprofessional soldier," Ryamizard said after a military function in the command's main regiment (Rindam) in Condet, East Jakarta.

Ryamizard said he handed over the matter to the council to decide whether he would advance his career.

"I don't like to dream. It would hurt me if the dream did not happen," he said. (asa/rms/dja)