Subject: Indonesia Wahid Suspends Wiranto As Security Minister

Dow Jones Newswires Feb 14, 2000

Indonesia Wahid Suspends Wiranto As Security Minister

JAKARTA -- Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid Monday officially suspended Security Minister Gen. Wiranto from the Cabinet over his alleged role in last year's bloodshed in East Timor, Cabinet Secretary Marsilam Simanjuntak said Monday.

Speaking at a press conference, Marsilam said Wahid has issued a decree to suspend Wiranto in a bid to give Wiranto time to prepare for the investigation into the allegations.

"The decision, which is effective Monday, was also made to keep the government stable," he quoted the decree as saying.

He also quoted the president's decree as saying the suspension is to help make the investigation go more smoothly and for "Wiranto's own good."

The move brings to an end weeks of tension between Wahid and Wiranto. Wiranto hasn't yet commented on the decision but is expected to do so at a ceremony to appoint his replacement.

Upon Wahid's return home Sunday following a 16-day overseas tour, he met with Wiranto and announced that the minister would remain part of the government while the attorney general's office conducted a formal inquiry into the violence that followed East Timor's vote for independence.

But late Sunday night, the president - who has been known to frequently make strong statements on issues only to ignore them later or change his stance - told Indonesian reporters that Wiranto would be suspended from the Cabinet during the new probe.

"While waiting for the attorney general's special team to investigate Gen. Wiranto, I have taken a decision to deactivate him from duty, and (appoint) Interior Minister Surjadi Sudirdja as interim coordinating minister for security and political affairs," Wahid said, as quoted by the Kompas newspaper.

Wahid's trip was largely overshadowed by his long-distance public row with Wiranto, who was accused by Indonesian and U.N. human-rights panels of overseeing violence in East Timor in his former role as armed forces commander.

Wiranto met with Wahid at the palace Sunday just hours after the president returned from a tour of the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

The issue dominated Wahid's trip and sparked fears of a possible military coup in Jakarta. The original goal of the tour - to encourage investment in Indonesia's moribund economy - was largely forgotten as the media focused on the public row.

Two weeks ago, a government-sponsored human rights probe into the crisis in East Timor recommended that Wiranto be formally investigated by state prosecutors.

Soon after the report was made public, Wahid announced he would suspend Wiranto.

But Wiranto defied repeated calls from Wahid to step down. He denied any wrongdoing and insisted he would present his case to the president in person.

The general was a protege of Indonesia's former dictator Suharto. He was given the post of security minister last October when Wahid took office.

Marsilam, however, declined to comment on whether Wiranto could be reinstalled as minister if the investigation doesn't prove him guilty of crimes in East Timor.

"I can't answer that question, that will be answered later," he said.

Meanwhile, Wahid also named Bondan Gunawan new secretary of the state, replacing Ali Rachman.

"The new secretary of the state has duties to simplify the secretary administration," he said.

-By I Made Sentana; 62 21 3983 1277; imsentana@ap.org

Dow Jones Newswires February 14, 2000

Indonesia's Wahid: "I Didn't Change My Mind" On Wiranto

JAKARTA -- Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid said Monday the decision to suspend Gen Wiranto as security and political affairs minister is consistent with his comments Sunday on the four-star general's future.

"I didn't change my mind," Wahid told reporters at the state palace. "Yesterday I said there would be an investigation of him and after that he is going to resign."

Wahid, who returned from a 16-day trip abroad Sunday, said Sunday that Wiranto would stay in the Cabinet pending a legal investigation into the role he may have played in last year's violence in East Timor.

But in a surprise reversal, Wahid Monday suspended his powerful security minister from the Cabinet over his alleged role in last year's bloodshed in East Timor.

Upon his return home Sunday, Wahid met with Wiranto and announced that the minister would remain part of the government while the attorney-general's office conducted a new formal inquiry into the violence that followed East Timor's vote for independence.

But late Sunday night, the president - who has been known to frequently make strong statements on issues only to ignore them later or change his stance - told Indonesian reporters that Wiranto would be suspended from the Cabinet.

"While waiting for the attorney-general's special team to investigate Gen. Wiranto, I have taken a decision to deactivate him from duty, and (appoint) interior minister Surjadi Sudirdja as interim coordinating minister for security and political affairs," Wahid said, as quoted by several newspapers.

Wahid insisted Monday that the decision to suspend the general was in line with his plan Sunday.

-By I Made Sentana; 62 21 3983 1277; imsentana@ap.org

>previous report:

Dow Jones Newswires Feb 14, 2000

Indonesia Wahid Suspends Wiranto As Security Minister

JAKARTA -- Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid Monday officially suspended Security Minister Gen. Wiranto from the Cabinet over his alleged role in last year's bloodshed in East Timor, Cabinet Secretary Marsilam Simanjuntak said Monday.

Speaking at a press conference, Marsilam said Wahid has issued a decree to suspend Wiranto in a bid to give Wiranto time to prepare for the investigation into the allegations.

"The decision, which is effective Monday, was also made to keep the government stable," he quoted the decree as saying.

He also quoted the president's decree as saying the suspension is to help make the investigation go more smoothly and for "Wiranto's own good."

The move brings to an end weeks of tension between Wahid and Wiranto. Wiranto hasn't yet commented on the decision but is expected to do so at a ceremony to appoint his replacement.

Upon Wahid's return home Sunday following a 16-day overseas tour, he met with Wiranto and announced that the minister would remain part of the government while the attorney general's office conducted a formal inquiry into the violence that followed East Timor's vote for independence.

But late Sunday night, the president - who has been known to frequently make strong statements on issues only to ignore them later or change his stance - told Indonesian reporters that Wiranto would be suspended from the Cabinet during the new probe.

"While waiting for the attorney general's special team to investigate Gen. Wiranto, I have taken a decision to deactivate him from duty, and (appoint) Interior Minister Surjadi Sudirdja as interim coordinating minister for security and political affairs," Wahid said, as quoted by the Kompas newspaper.

Wahid's trip was largely overshadowed by his long-distance public row with Wiranto, who was accused by Indonesian and U.N. human-rights panels of overseeing violence in East Timor in his former role as armed forces commander.

Wiranto met with Wahid at the palace Sunday just hours after the president returned from a tour of the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

The issue dominated Wahid's trip and sparked fears of a possible military coup in Jakarta. The original goal of the tour - to encourage investment in Indonesia's moribund economy - was largely forgotten as the media focused on the public row.

Two weeks ago, a government-sponsored human rights probe into the crisis in East Timor recommended that Wiranto be formally investigated by state prosecutors.

Soon after the report was made public, Wahid announced he would suspend Wiranto.

But Wiranto defied repeated calls from Wahid to step down. He denied any wrongdoing and insisted he would present his case to the president in person.

The general was a protege of Indonesia's former dictator Suharto. He was given the post of security minister last October when Wahid took office.

Marsilam, however, declined to comment on whether Wiranto could be reinstalled as minister if the investigation doesn't prove him guilty of crimes in East Timor.

"I can't answer that question, that will be answered later," he said.

Meanwhile, Wahid also named Bondan Gunawan new secretary of the state, replacing Ali Rachman.

"The new secretary of the state has duties to simplify the secretary administration," he said.

-By I Made Sentana; 62 21 3983 1277; imsentana@ap.org


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