Sat, 13 May 2000

TNI reshuffle rumors downplayed

JAKARTA (JP): Amid speculation over a possible reshuffle in the Indonesian Military (TNI), President Abdurrahman Wahid unexpectedly summoned on Friday morning several senior officers.

Acting State Secretary Bondan Gunawan said the President met with several TNI officers, including TNI's Chief of Territorial Affairs Lt. Gen. Agus Wijaya, Army Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Endriartono Sutarto and other senior officers from Air Force and the Navy.

Bondan declined to disclose the purpose of the visit, but hinted that a military reshuffle was not discussed during the meeting.

"The President said that the military should remain solid," said Bondan, who is also secretary for government supervision.

Bondan said TNI Chief Admiral Widodo A.S. was also present during the meeting. He declined to identify the names of officers from the Navy and Air Force who took part in the meeting, claiming he forgot their names.

Bondan played down rumors that the President was planning to dismiss Army Chief of Staff Gen. Tyasno Sudarto.

"I only know from newspapers that Pak Tyasno is going to be replaced," Bondan remarked.

On the fate of ailing defense minister Juwono Sudarsono, Bondan insisted the President had no plans to dismiss him from the Cabinet.

Bondan acknowledged that Juwono's health remained fragile after suffering from a recent stroke.

"The minister of defense continues to be sick. For sometime there have been proposals to replace him," Bondan revealed.

Juwono, 56, was hospitalized in December after suffering from hypertension. He has served as minister in three Cabinets.

Juwono, a professor of political sciences at the University of Indonesia, served as state minister of environment in president Soeharto's two month old Cabinet until May 1998. Soeharto's successor B.J. Habibie appointed him minister of education.

"He does not have a heart attack problem, but he has had a stroke," Bondan responded when asked about Juwono's illness.(prb)