Mon, 11 Jun 2001

MPR's regional representatives may back Gus Dur

JAKARTA (JP): The regional representatives threw down another gauntlet as they officially proposed on Saturday the formation of their own faction in the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR).

The regional representatives said they would do President Abdurrahman Wahid "a favor" in the special session of the Assembly, scheduled to begin on Aug. 1, if their demand was rejected.

"We are considering taking President Abdurrahman Wahid's side if the major factions refuse to support our proposal," Hatta Mustafa, who represents Lampung province, said at the conclusion of the weeklong meeting of the forum of regional representatives.

Hatta was referring to the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) and the Golkar Party factions, to which most of the 130 regional representatives are members of.

On Friday, the regional representatives threatened to walk out of the MPR special session if their demand for a separate faction was denied.

PDI Perjuangan and the Golkar Party, which between them hold 367 of the 700 seats in the Assembly, are leading the move to impeach the President for his erratic leadership.

The Assembly has agreed to ask the President to account for his rule in its upcoming special session. A rejection of Abdurrahman's accountability speech will cost him the presidency and move Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri, who also chairs PDI Perjuangan, to the top post.

Fahmi Idris, who represents South Kalimantan province, said the Golkar Party would support the reinstatement of the regional representatives faction if other political parties followed suit.

"We have no objection to the proposal, but other parties should be of the same stand. It is also our responsibility to fight for the aspirations of the people in the provinces," said Fahmi, who is also deputy chairman of the Golkar Party.

Nusa Tandoe, who presided over the meeting on Saturday, said the presence of a regional representatives faction was necessary to counter the dominance of political parties.

Oesman Sapta, who was unanimously elected the chairman of the would-be regional representatives faction, shared Tandoe's view, saying the faction would emerge as a force to balance the political forces in the Assembly.

"So far, the political parties have dominated the legislature, both in the Assembly and in the House of Representatives, and this is truly against the Constitution. We want a proportional balance of political parties on one side, and representatives of interest groups and regions on the other, to ensure a bicameral system," he said.

A balanced configuration will allow the Assembly to pay attention to both the interests and aspirations of the parties and regions, he added.

Tandoe said the conflict between the President and the House could be due to the dominance of political parties in the legislature.

He said the Assembly would have a deputy chairman from the regional representatives if their proposal for the new faction was accepted and that they would be the third major faction in the Assembly after the PDI Perjuangan and Golkar Party factions.

"We deserve a deputy chairman from our faction as our members might increase to more than 150 because of the newly formed provinces," he said. (rms)