Wed, 19 Apr 2000

PKB urges Amien Rais to resign as MPR speaker

JAKARTA (JP): Political supporters of President Abdurrahman Wahid have retaliated against Amien Rais' stinging criticism of the President, warning that they would move to replace the People's Consultative Assembly speaker.

The National Awakening Party (PKB), which Abdurrahman helped establish, blasted the Assembly speaker's threats to have the President removed and hinted that Amien may be supporting the extreme Laskar Jihad (holy war warriors) movement.

Speaking to journalists here on Tuesday, PKB deputy secretary- general Yahya C. Staquf said Amien's criticism of Abdurrahman had overstepped his authority as Assembly speaker.

"We will soon send a letter to our faction at the Assembly to ask the Assembly to find a new speaker," Yahya said.

He suggested that Amien, who is also National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman, had close relations with the Laskar Jihad which, equipped with swords and machetes, staged a rally at the presidential palace last week.

Yahya also said he suspected Amien exploited information about the President's idea to lift a ban on communism which then triggered emotional reactions from the public.

"As Assembly speaker, Amien should not do that. He should be wiser and more mature," Yahya asserted.

He urged the Assembly speaker to refrain from using his position for his own political ambition and asked Amien to clarify his earlier statement, even though he had toned it down in recent days.

Amien earlier said that an extraordinary session of the Assembly could be held to unseat the Abdurrahman due to his poor performance and his intention to end the ban on communism.

The Crescent Star Party (PBB), who along with PAN joined the loose coalition called the Axis Force, was the first party to propose a special session of the Assembly.


More and more political groups across the country are brushing aside the prospect of a special session to possibly unseat Abdurrahman.

The Indonesian National Youth Committee (KNPI) said it was an unconstitutional act that should be condemned.

"The PBB faction, Assembly Speaker Amien Rais and other Muslim activists should not force their intention to call for an MPR special session to replace the valid government," KNPI chairman Adhyaksa said here on Tuesday.

He said KNPI, representing 65 youth organizations nationwide, would be behind the Indonesian Military (TNI) in facing any unconstitutional acts.

He said neither the PBB faction nor Amien Rais had any legal basis for calling for a special session because the President had not violated the Constitution or the State Policy Guidelines.

Dissension was also heard among Amien's own party, with PAN deputy secretary-general Bara Hasibuan brushing aside the idea.

"I don't see any strong justification for disappointed parties to try to hold a special session to replace Gus Dur," he told The Jakarta Post.

"If it's only because of Gus Dur talking then why should we bother?" he remarked, pointing out that it was only a spoken proposal.

"These political parties are bound by a political contract and so they should respect that contract. A review should only be done if there is a violation of the Constitution or the law.

"If they still force a special session then they only have short-term interests ... Its ridiculous. We could have a new president every year," he charged.

Meanwhile in Yogyakarta, Amien Rais on Tuesday seemed to be changing the tough stance he took during the President's absence abroad last week.

"No, no, no, its not on the agenda," Amien replied when asked by journalists if the planned Assembly General Session in August would be altered to a special one.

"Next August will be an ordinary General Session," he added.

He went on to say that Abdurrahman's support for repealing the ban on communism was not adequate grounds for holding a special session.

"Since it is only Gus Dur's proposal we cannot take it as a reason for an MPR special session," Amien said. (jun/rms/44)