Fri, 29 Dec 2000

President denies rumors of Cabinet shake-up

JAKARTA (JP): Palace officials on Thursday denied speculation that President Abdurrahman Wahid will reshuffle his cabinet in the New Year as a result of the Sunday Christmas eve bombings.

"There's no suspicion at all of any involvement by government members. There will be no reshuffle linked to this incident," presidential spokesman Wimar Witoelar told a news briefing.

In September, Abdurrahman sacked national police chief General Rusdihardjo following a spate of bombings in the capital.

The statement came as Abdurrahman had also told the last Cabinet meeting of the year last week that there would be no Cabinet reshuffle.

There has been much speculation that several Cabinet members are planning to tender their resignation because of their disappointment over Abdurrahman's erratic style of running the country.

Among those who are said to be ready to resign is State Minister for Administrative Reforms Ryaas Rasyid who admitted earlier this month that he may resign early next year.

Ryaas, who was tasked by Abdurrahman with restructuring the cabinet in August together with Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Minister of Settlements and Regional Infrastructure Erna Witoelar, was said to be disappointed as some of his policies had been unilaterally canceled by the President.

Wimar also said Thursday that Abdurrahman is due to deliver a nationally-televised year-end message on Dec. 31.

Meanwhile, Antara reported Wednesday that Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri will leave for Saudi Arabia on Friday to perform a minor pilgrimage after which she will visit Switzerland, Bangladesh and Malaysia.

Megawati is scheduled to return home on Jan. 9. (byg)