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Subject: Ruling party moves against Suharto clan
Date: Fri, 7 Aug 1998 06:34:28 +0000

BBC World News 07/08/98

Ruling party moves against Suharto clan

Mr Suharto and his family have lost all their powers of influence

Jonathan Head reports from Jakarta:

Seven relatives of former President Suharto have been removed from their positions within the country's dominant political party, Golkar.

The expulsion of the seven, including four of his children, means that there are now no formal political avenues left through which the former president can try to maintain his influence.

The seven had been members of the People's Consultative Assembly, which still has the power to sack the president.

Mr Suharto's successor, President Habibie, is likely to replace them with his own supporters.

But attempts to recover the wealth accumulated by Mr Suharto during his three decades in power are proving less successful.

Much of that wealth, which by some estimates totals $30bn, is believed to be held in charitable foundations still controlled by Mr Suharto and his associates.

The new Golkar chairman, Akhbar Tanjung, has asked Mr Suharto to hand over the $85m dollars in one foundation which was set up specifically to raise funds for the party.

So far Mr Suharto has refused.

Without the money Golkar will find it difficult to compete with new opposition parties in the elections scheduled for the middle of next year.

Golkar is now threatening to hand the case over to the courts. But the government appears reluctant to confront Mr Suharto over his other, much larger foundations.

It even offered to donate around two million dollars to build him a retirement home earlier this week, causing a public outcry.

Critics believe there is still strong loyalty towards the former president among current government ministers, many of whom also served in Mr Suharto's cabinets.

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