Wed, 29 Nov 2000

Sutiyoso must take leave of absence: PAN faction

JAKARTA (JP): The National Mandate Party (PAN) faction on the City Council joined in the chorus asking Governor Sutiyoso to take a leave of absence from office after he was named a suspect in the 1996 forcible takeover of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) headquarters.

The deputy chairman of the second largest faction on the City Council, Tjuk Sudono, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that it was for Sutiyoso's own good as he had to prepare himself to answer the charges.

"Being a suspect, Sutiyoso will need more time to deal with the case. This is similar to what happened with Gen. (ret) Wiranto when he was suspended following the investigation into the East Timor abuses," Tjuk said.

"It's a kind of moral responsibility that Sutiyoso must honor because he is involved in legal proceedings," he added.

He said it would be appropriate for the City Council to recommend to the central government that Sutiyoso be suspended as the taking of such a step was the prerogative of the President.

"Our faction will try to convey the idea to the City Council speaker," Tjuk said, while acknowledging that his faction had held a meeting about the issue on Tuesday.

He also said that if the governor was later found guilty by a court, the City Council would then elect a new governor.

The initial call for Sutiyoso to temporarily step aside was made by the Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), the largest faction on the City Council, on Monday.

The PDI Perjuangan faction controls 34 seats on the City Council compared to 12 for the PAN faction.

Sutiyoso, who was the Jakarta Military Commander when the 1996 tragedy occurred, has been named a suspect in the incident, along with former Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Hamami Nata and seven other officials.

The attack on the PDI headquarters triggered mass unrest in Central Jakarta, leaving at least five people dead with 23 others reportedly still missing today.

Councillor Dani Anwar of the Justice Party (PK) said that his faction preferred to adopt a cautious stance on the matter while awaiting a court ruling on Sutiyoso's status.

"If he (Sutiyoso) is declared a defendant, then our faction will discuss the matter.

"We have to consider the legal aspects of the case as, given his present status as a suspect, there is still a chance for him to be exonerated," Dani told the Post.

"For now, we will make no further statements and we still consider him to be the governor of the capital," he said. (dja)