Fri, 14 Jan 2000

TNI spokesman Sudrajat set to be replaced

JAKARTA (JP): In what appears to be part of an ongoing reshuffle within the Indonesian Military (TNI), President Abdurrahman Wahid confirmed on Thursday that military spokesman Maj. Gen. Sudrajat would be replaced by Air Rear Marshal Graito Husodo.

The President acknowledged that he "requested" TNI chief Adm. Widodo make the change.

Abdurrahman referred to Sudrajat's replacement and the already reported appointment of Air Rear Marshal Ian Santoso Perdanakusumah as head of the Indonesian Military's Intelligence Board (Bais).

Speaking here during a gathering with journalists to mark Idul Fitri, the President did not specify a reason for the impending transfers of duty, but added it was "for improvement".

"I don't know when it will take place but I have already asked the TNI commander," Abdurrahman said.

Several recent changes to the military's top brass were notable because the appointments were from ranks of the armed forces other than the Army.

Ian is the first non-Army officer to head the military intelligence body, while Graito breaks the long tradition of Army officers as the military's spokesman.

Widodo's appointment in March was also an Indonesian military precedent as he was the first non-Army officer to head TNI.

When contacted later, Graito said it would be premature for him to comment as he had yet to receive official confirmation from his superiors.

"I am surprised (to hear this news) but as a soldier I have to be ready for any assignment and I'll do my best," Graito, who currently serves as an expert staff to Widodo, told The Jakarta Post.

Sudrajat, who was only appointed spokesman last August, confirmed separately that he would be leaving his post but declined to elaborate.

When pressed, however, he denied speculation that he was replaced because he was too critical of the government.

"No reasons were given when I was told about this. I should consider this replacement as an ordinary tour of duty," said Sudrajat, who has served in various positions, including as defense attache in London and Washington.

A senior officer at his department disclosed that Sudrajat was likely to be appointed deputy head of the intelligence board.

"We here heard that he will be Marshal Ian's deputy but there's no official announcement about this yet," the officer told the Post. (emf/prb)