Wed, 02 Aug 2000

Top four leaders urged to take follow-up steps

JAKARTA (JP): A meeting of the country's top four political leaders in Yogyakarta will only bear fruit if the leaders take follow-up steps to end their political feuds, sociologist Selo Soemardjan said on Tuesday.

Selo, a former adviser to the late Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX, said the leaders should demonstrate their maturity to the nation by refraining from attacking each other in public.

"The meeting will only be useful if the four figures no longer fight with each other," he said during a break in a seminar being held in Makassar, South Sulawesi.

Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono X hosted the summit at the royal palace in Yogyakarta.

The meeting was attended by President Abdurrahman Wahid, Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri, People's Consultative Assembly Speaker Amien Rais, House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung and the sultan.

"Frankly speaking, the meeting will not be able to resolve our huge national problems in the short term," said Selo.

Meanwhile, Arbi Sani, a political scientist at the University of Indonesia, described the meeting as a preliminary step to reunite the country's top political power holders.

He also said the meeting would prove fruitful if it was followed by further reconciliatory gatherings.

"The leaders want to rebuild the country's chaotic leadership by showing the public and the economic markets they have a united leadership," Arbi told The Jakarta Post here on Tuesday evening.

Arbi urged the national media to help the leaders create a more positive political atmosphere, saying stability was required to restore the country's economy.

"The four leaders want to build a joint leadership. I hope the press will contribute to their efforts," Arbi remarked.

Cornelis Lay, a political observer from Gajah Mada University, expressed hope the meeting would result in a kind of "gentlemen's agreement" that would encourage the leaders to remain firm in their commitment to political reconciliation.

Cornelis said Abdurrahman, Megawati, Amien and Akbar had strong grassroots followings and that tension among their supporters would subside if they were able to prove they were united in their effort to lead the country.

"If they are not bound in a gentlemen's agreement and then they betray their own agreement, it will be more difficult for them to meet again," Cornelis said. (27/prb)