Tue, 26 Sep 2000

Susilo promoted to four-star general

JAKARTA (JP): Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was promoted to honorary four-star general on Monday by President Abdurrahman Wahid.

Susilo, who resigned from the military when appointed as mines and energy minister in the previous Cabinet, was quick to point out that the promotion had nothing to do with his new position as top political and security officer in the Cabinet.

"It is a military tradition," he was quoted by Antara as saying after reporting the promotion to the Indonesian Military chief Adm. Widodo A.S. in Cilangkap, East Jakarta.

Many believe that Susilo is among few Cabinet members who have won the President's trust. Susilo, along with Cabinet members Erna Witoelar and Ryaas Rasyid, were chosen by Abdurrahman last month to draft the structure of the new Cabinet.

Susilo is also a key player in containing the fallout over the killing of three UN workers in Atambua, East Nusa Tenggara earlier this month.

He was dispatched to New York last week to brief members of the United Nations Security Council on measures Jakarta would take to disband the militias in East Nusa Tenggara.

Born in Pacitan, East Java, in 1949, he was the Indonesian Military's chief of territorial affairs before his appointment to the Cabinet in October last year.

Separately, United States Ambassador to Indonesia Robert Gelbard played down reports that U.S. Marines were at the East Timor border.

Gelbard said the marines left East Timor last week after staying for three days and were there for what he called humanitarian purposes.

"Yes, there were U.S. marines in East Timor. I am not quite sure of their number, maybe around 600 marines," Gelbard told journalists after meeting with Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri here on Monday.

During their meeting, Gelbard and Megawati reportedly discussed various issues, including the Vice President's visit to Atambua and the country's economic situation.(byg)