Wed, 06 Aug 2003

Megawati sitting pretty until 2004

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

President Megawati Soekarnoputri may breath a sigh of relieve, at least for the time being, as there are no prospects that she will be unseated by legislators in the same way that former president B.J. Habibie was unseated in 1999.

Megawati will still have to present her accountability report next year, as Habibie did, but the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) agreed on Tuesday that it would not assess her performance.

"In next year's session, there will be no separate commission set up to issue a decree in response to the accountability report," GBPH Joyokusumo, the chairman of Commission C1 deliberating a new decree on the MPR's standing orders, told reporters here.

Indonesia has had three presidents in the last five years. Habibie's successor Abdurrahman Wahid was impeached by the MPR in July 2001. Soon after, Megawati took over.

The MPR factions have agreed that the Assembly would convene for the last time in September 2004 to hear the President's accountability report.

However, the report would have no legal or political consequences for the President as the Assembly would not respond to her accountability report on the implementation of the state policy guidelines (GBHN) through the issuance of a binding MPR decree.

The question of how binding or non-binding an MPR decree may is not as easy as it seems, though. Last year's MPR decree on Aceh, which stipulated a peaceful solution to the separatist issue, for example, was binding. Yet, with MPR support, the President decided otherwise this year.

Joyokusumo said that the responses to the accountability report would be presented by individual MPR factions rather than as a separate decree.

He said the 1999-2004 MPR would convene on Sept. 30 at the latest. However, should it fail to convene on that date, it would have to hold the session at least one week before the new crop of MPR members for 2004-2009 were sworn in.

"We will discuss the matter further with the General Elections Commission (KPU)," he said.

Previously, the factions in the MPR were at odds over whether or not the President would have to deliver an accountability report during the 2004 session. The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) insisted that the President should only have to deliver a progress report on her three-year administration.

The National Awakening Party (PKB) faction demanded that the accountability report be delivered in April 2004. The faction said that Megawati was elected by the current MPR and therefore she should present her accountability report to the body that had elected her.

Joyokusumo said that the factions on Commission C1 had also agreed that the 2004 session would also hear reports on how much the constitutional commission had done in carrying out a comprehensive review on the amendments made so far to the 1945 Constitution.

Separately, Commission C chairman Barlianta Harahap said that the Assembly would recommend that the House of Representatives (DPR) set up a disciplinary committee to promote greater discipline and honesty among its members.

He declined to comment when asked if such a council would also decide the fate of House Speaker Akbar Tandjung, who has been convicted of corruption. He is currently appealing his conviction.

Barlianta also said the Commission C2 had not discussed a proposal from a number of factions in the MPR to fire Minister of Trade and Industry Rini M. Suwandi for her alleged involvement in irregularities in the purchase of Russian-made Sukhoi jet fighters.

Earlier, Rizal Jalil of the Reform Faction, which is dominated by MPR speaker Amien Rais' National Mandate Party (PAN), had demanded that the Assembly issue a recommendation for the dismissal of Rini, whom he claimed had violated various laws and regulations in a barter deal with a Russian export firm.