Sat, 18 Mar 2000

President sticks with coup allegations

JAKARTA (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid repeated allegations a regional military commander had publicly expressed discontentment with the government, warning the unnamed commander to end his outbursts if he wished to keep his job.

Speaking during a public dialog after Friday prayers at a mosque near his private residence in South Jakarta, the President said he had evidence to support his allegations, including precisely what the general said.

"I can say in what hotel, at what time, who came to the meeting and what was discussed there," a clearly agitated Abdurrahman said.

However, Abdurrahman again failed to reveal the detailed information he professes to possess.

"If he can correct himself within a certain time, then he will stay, but if past a certain time he continues then he has to be removed," the President said of the military commander.

In a television interview earlier this week, Abdurrahman said there were several regional military commanders who were mobilizing antigovernment forces.

A day later he corrected this statement, saying only one of the 11 regional commanders was involved in any antigovernment activities.

Separately, the head of the Brawijaya Military Command, Maj. Gen. Sudi Silalahi, denied suggestions elements of the military were moving against the President.

"I am convinced there are no military commanders who would do such a thing. All TNI (Indonesian Military) soldiers have taken an oath to be loyal to the country and the legitimate government," Sudi, whose command covers East Java, said after performing Friday prayers in Surabaya.

"For God's sake, I will never violate the oath," Sudi said, adding that he had spoken to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Tyasno Sudarto about the matter.

Sudi challenged those who would attempt to topple the government to face soldiers under his command.

"If there are parties trying to overthrow the government, I will be the first to face them," he said, adding that he suspected those who fanned such rumors were groups or people who wished to create unrest in East Java.

Separately, outgoing Wirabuana Military Commander Maj. Gen. Agus Wirahadikusumah declined to comment on Abdurrahman's allegations, saying it was beyond his capacity to comment on a statement made by the President.

"I think the TNI chief and the Army's chief of staff have already responded," Agus told The Jakarta Post in his office in Makassar, South Sulawesi.

Agus is slated to take over the Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) at the end of March. (prb/emf/nur/27)