Subject: Susilo Warns Of Violence [+Transcript; 'Wiranto Can Protect Us']
Indonesian Pres Front-Runner Warns Of Violence
JAKARTA, June 23 (AP)--The leading contender in Indonesia's presidential election next month warned Wednesday that if the race goes to a run-off in September, it could get so polarized that supporters of the losing candidate may "burn down cities."
But Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono predicted in an interview with The Associated Press that he would likely win more than 50% of the votes in the July 5 election, making a second round of voting in September unnecessary.
The retired army general said that if he wins, he would step up the fight against terrorism in the world's most populous Muslim nation, and normalize military relations between Jakarta and Washington.
Opinion polls show support for Yudhoyono just below the 50%, around 30 percentage points ahead of his nearest rival, incumbent President Megawati Sukarnoputri.
Yudhoyono said that a second round of voting between the two top finishers would be like "a boxing match, someone must fall."
"Maybe the contestants will be OK with that, but their followers may fight, be angry and burn down cities," he said at Jakarta's Halim Perdanakusuma airport before boarding his chartered jet to hit the campaign trail.
"Maybe it will be much better if this is won in one round," he said.
Parliamentary polls in April passed off peacefully, and campaigning for the July election - the first in which Indonesia's 210 million people will chose their leader directly - has been without incident.
The July poll is seen as a milestone in the country's transition to democracy after the fall of former dictator Suharto in 1998. Previously, lawmakers acting as an electoral college chose the head of state.
Yudhoyono has seen his popularity shoot up after he stepped down as security minister in March to run for the presidency. Perceived as forceful and fair, the 54-year-old has been largely unaffected by his association with the country's brutal military dictatorship.
Meanwhile, Megawati's support has dropped sharply due to her failure to jump-start Indonesia's moribund economy, and crack down on rampant corruption during her three years at the helm.
Yudhoyono is viewed favorably in Washington because he has been one of the Indonesian government's most vocal supporters of the war on terrorism, and has led Indonesia's fight against its own militants.
"Indonesia is trying hard to fight terrorism," he said. "I will improve law enforcement and skills of the police to fight terrorism...if I am elected."
Yudhoyono, who attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1990, said that normalizing currently stalled military ties with Washington was "an important agenda."
Washington cut off military links with Jakarta in 1999 after Indonesian soldiers went on a bloody rampage during East Timor's vote for independence the same year.
"We have to review the existing military cooperation," he said.
"It is not necessary to revive all past (forms of cooperation), but new programs could be developed in the future...such as training Indonesian soldiers in U.S. military schools," he said.
-Edited by Shishir Mudgil
Radio Australia June 22, 2004 -transcript-
INDONESIA: Military Past Unlikely to Deter Voters
While an outstanding arrest warrant for human rights violations might be a crippling handicap for a presidential contender in most democracies, many voters in Indonesia it seems, consider it a non-issue. Some might even argue that links with Indonesia's notorious military sector, despite its abuses and rampant corruption during the Suharto regime - might not necessarily be a negative factor.
Presenter/Interviewer: Sen Lam
Speakers: Dr Denny J.A., Director of the Indonesian Survey Institute in Jakarta
DENNY: "The background of military for one of them give mixed image, depends on what segment of society. Among the middle class, especially the intellectuals or the activists of NGOs, the military background gives very negative image because one of them qualify them as a part of the new order regime when military is only vehicle for Suharto. This happened among the middle class up and intellectuals. But don't forget the population of the people who are in level of middle class, higher education, the percentage of them is only four per cent. For the common people especially the lower class, the number of population of them is about 60 per cent, military background gives positive image because it gives level of the strong leadership."
LAM: And both Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and General Wiranto appeared recently as guest performers on the popular talent show, "Akademi Fantasi Indosiar". Are such appearances considered important politically? Do they sway voters or influence voters in any way?
DENNY: "Yeah because in Indonesian population the youngsters, so many, and the "Akademi Fantasi Indosiar" is one of the highest rating programs in Indonesian television. Even in Indonesian history of television many people watch this program. So it is really very good program for SBY and Wiranto to attract the voters, especially from the youngsters."
LAM: So by youngsters you mean the first-time voters?
DENNY: "The first time to elect, to vote, whose age is under 25."
LAM: And of course much has been said about General Wiranto's war criminal status, but what about General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono? He too has a military background, does he have many skeletons in the cupboard?
DENNY: "Yeah compared to Wiranto maybe this also a fortunate for SBY. When he was in military career he was not yet in the high and command position, so for any violation of human rights case for example it's difficult for us to ask SBY to be responsible, because in that event SBY was not in the command. As the commander is Wiranto, it's not SBY. His career cannot make us blame him to be responsible."
LAM: Do you think that SBY's reputation as a clean candidate and a fair minded man, even though he does have a military past, do you think that reputation is well deserved?
DENNY: "Yeah, up till now at least people still think that SBY is clean, personal integrity is well protected. Although we know that there is a lot of propaganda against him through SMS, through leaflets and the percentage of him on the surface is still very, very high, more than 40 per cent."
New Straits Times June 23, 2004
'Wiranto can protect us'
By Amy Chew
Presidential hopeful General Wiranto is wooing votes where they matter most in the Indonesian election - Java, as AMY CHEW discovers.
AS Indonesia's election campaign enters into full swing, presidential candidate General Wiranto flew to the royal city of Surakarta in Central Java last week.
Surakarta is the centre of Javanese culture, the seat of the ancient Mataram empire. It is also a symbol of modern Indonesian leadership, where the country's presidents have all been Javanese, except for one, since the birth of the nation in 1945.
In order to win the country's first direct presidential elections on July 5, the candidates have to conquer Java where more than half of the country's 155.36 million registered voters live.
And Wiranto, a Javanese, is only too aware of that fact. He is also a complex man - serious, reserved in the Javanese way, haunted by accusations of human rights abuses in the past and yet described as warm and caring by those who know him.
According to political analyst Professor Ryaas Rasyid, Wiranto will conquer Java in the elections because he has the persona of a Javanese leader, which appeals to the people.
"In the minds of the Javanese, they always need somone to protect them and they see Wiranto as somoene who can protect them. Wiranto is calm, strong and serious - he is the Javanese's ideal of a leader," said Ryaas, who is also chairman of United Democratic Nationhood Party (PDK). PDK members had voted in a national congress to support Wiranto.
Wiranto arrived in Surakarta the same day the Sultan of Surakarta, Sinuhun Kangjeng Susuhunan Pakubuwono XII, passed away.
Wiranto made his way to an open field where more than 1,500 people gathered to see him and asked for a minute's silence to mourn the sultan before speaking.
"I grew up in this town. I feel the suffering of the people here who have nothing. I feel their pain in struggling to overcome their difficulties. And that is why I am here today," said Wiranto.
He then proceeded to sing a local hit, Rise and fall. "This song describes my life - I fall and rise again," he told the crowd to loud cheers.
As the band struck up the opening notes, Wiranto's serious expression changed - he broke into a radiant smile and danced to the music, urging his audience to sing with him.
At the palace, Wiranto, 57, knelt and placed his face at the feet of the body of the sultan. When he rose minutes later, there were tears in his eyes. He quickly composed himself. "He was like a father to me," he said.
While foreigners, rights campaigners and segments of the middle-class reject him, here in the provinces where the majority lives, Wiranto enjoys popular support.
"I am going to vote for Wiranto. He has experience in government and he is the one who can protect the people," said Suratman, 43, an unemployed factory worker.
Suratman is part of the 43 million unemployed, a vocal bloc, which is fuelling discontent in a population of 210 million. While the Government has stabilised the economy, it has been unable to generate high growth quickly enough to absorb the ever growing labour force.
Wiranto has as good a chance as incumbent President Megawati Sukarnoputri and leading candidate and former security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, for the presidency.
As the candidate from the country's largest political party, Golkar, he can count on the party's huge machinery to mobilise support for him. He also has the support of the country's third largest party, the Nation Awakening Party (PKB).
"Golkar has a huge base of voters. Even if some of the voters run to other candidates, the core base will vote for Wiranto and they are a huge number. It is the same for PKB," said Ryaas.
Wiranto is the son of a schoolteacher who rose to become former President Suharto's armed forces chief. Suharto's 32-year rule was ended by mass protests in 1998 but Wiranto continued in his position under Suharto's successor, B.J. Habibie.
When Abdurrahman Wahid replaced Habibie, Wiranto was appointed security minister. He was later dismissed in 2000 over violence in East Timor, which killed some 1,000 people after it voted to break away from Jakarta rule.
With his entry into the presidential race, accusations of human rights abuses in East Timor and Indonesia have resurfaced with regularity.
East Timor's Serious Crimes Unit (SCU), a unit within the Timorese Attorney-General's office, indicted him for crimes against humanity and issued a warrant for his arrest. The warrant was cancelled by the AG's office in May this year, a move which is expected to help smooth Wiranto's path to the presidency.
Wiranto has denied any wrongdoing and always maintained he "never planned or ordered" the killings. He is not charged as a suspect in Jakarta's on-going ad hoc human rights trials. Rights campaigners assert he should be held responsible as he was then the military commander.
"Wiranto should be held responsible by omission, or commission, of the forming of militias, violence and the scorched earth (policy) which took place in East Timor," said Munir, a leading rights campaigner.
East Timor is a never-ending battleground for Wiranto. In 1978, as a young officer assigned to East Timor, his second child died five days after birth. The news reached him in the jungle. "I said to myself, I really hate this. One day, when I am in a position to do something, I want to stop this fighting," he said in an earlier interview.
His wish has gone unfulfilled and in an interview with the New Straits Times, he said he was sorry. "As a human being, I feel very sorry over what has happened there. I apologise to all parties over what has happened in East Timor." In an effort to burnish his domestic and international standing, Wiranto met with Timorese president Xanana Gusmao last month in Bali. He described his relationship with Gusmao as one based on friendship and a commitment to rebuild their respective countries.
"Even though we faced each other in the past, even frequently fought against each other, we are aware we were both in a situation which could not be avoided. We had to confront one another, not because we hated each other but because we both had different obligations at that time," said Wiranto.
"If I am elected president, I want both our countries to co-operate to improve the welfare of the people in the two countries, who right now need the guiding hand of two presidents who understand East Timor," he said.
As his political enemies step up their efforts to discredit him, such as in distributing VCDs urging people to reject him for his alleged human rights abuses, his supporters don black T-shirts with the words: "Let the people choose".
AFP, June 22, 2004
Wiranto's problem: Unifying Golkar
JAKARTA-In many countries, an outstanding arrest warrant for crimes against humanity would be a crippling handicap for a presidential contender. Not for Indonesia's former military chief Wiranto, who has more pressing problems in the run-up to the July 5 election.
Wiranto's rights record "won't affect his chances much. Many voters consider it a non-issue," said Amir Santoso, political lecturer at the University of Indonesia.
While the warrant from a United Nations-backed court in East Timor is expected to have little impact, other episodes in Wiranto's past could be more damaging.
Analysts say one of his biggest problems is securing the wholehearted support of members of his Golkar party, which won the April 5 parliamentary election.
Denny Januar Aly, director of the Indonesian Survey Institute, said both Golkar and the PKB were split.
"The PKB seems to be half-hearted in supporting Wiranto. Only the party elite is supporting him," he said.
Santoso also said Wiranto must sort out party conflicts in order to stand a chance against his main challengers, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and incumbent Megawati Sukarnoputri. Yudhoyono, another ex-general but with a less controversial past, is far ahead of all contenders in opinion polls.
Wiranto, the son of an impoverished elementary school headmaster, rose to become presidential adjutant and then military chief under dictator Suharto. He survived Suharto's fall in 1998 and kept his post under B.J. Habibie.
Meantime, former US president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn will lead a 60-member international delegation to observe Indonesia's presidential election next month, the Carter Center said Tuesday.
The delegation, representing six countries, will arrive on July 1 and deploy throughout the country to watch the ballot.
The European Union will deploy some 230 observers for the July election. It also monitored the April 5 parliamentary election and described the vote as democratic, transparent and peaceful despite administrative shortcomings.
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