House must not confirm Ryamizard as TNI chief: Analysts
The Jakarta Post
House must not confirm Ryamizard as TNI chief: Analysts
Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post/Jakarta
President-elect Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should not hesitate to exercise his prerogative to install a military chief willing to implement reform in the institution, observers said on Saturday.
Andi Widjajanto, a military analyst with the University of Indonesia, and Kusnanto Anggoro of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) were of the opinion that although Susilo would face no legal obstacles in appointing his preferred choice of military chief, it would be difficult for him to overcome the psychological barrier in the face of the appointment of Army chief Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu as the acting Indonesian Military (TNI) chief.
Outgoing president Megawati Soekarnoputri has accepted TNI chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto's resignation and named Ryamizard as acting chief pending approval from the House of Representatives.
"This will be the first test for SBY, whether he will complete military reform," Andi said, referring to Susilo by his initials. "On the other hand, the TNI's pledge to stay neutral will be put to the test as they have to obey the orders of the president, including as regards the choice of TNI chief," Andi said.
The House will start discussing Megawati's appointment of Ryamizard as the acting TNI chief on Monday. Ryamizard has also commanded the Army's Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad) following the retirement of its previous commander, Lt. Gen. Bibit Waluyo.
It remains unclear why Endriartono, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 55 two years ago, tendered his resignation to the outgoing president rather than waiting for the inauguration of the new president.
Andi said that normally a TNI chief would wait to tender his resignation to the new president in order to provide the latter with the opportunity of appointing whomsoever he or she considered suitable for the job.
Kusnanto suggested that the new House, which was inaugurated on Oct. 1, reject Megawati's decision, primarily based on the argument that the House has yet to establish its commissions.
The House is expected to set up its commissions by the end of the month and start working early in November.
"The decision, which has been taken by the President only days before she leaves office, is bizarre. The House must not endorse it as they have yet to form a commission to discuss it," he said.
Andi said the House's approval would open the door for a legal challenge in the Constitutional Court due to the failure to comply with constitutional procedures in selecting the new TNI chief.
More than half of the 550 House seats are controlled by the Nationhood Coalition, which includes Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the Golkar Party and the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS).
Meanwhile, House Speaker Agung Laksono said the House leadership would hold a consultation meeting with the leaders of its 10 factions to discuss Megawati's appointment of Ryamizard as acting TNI chief.
"So far, Gen. Endriartono Sutarto remains the TNI chief as we have yet to approve the President's decision," he said.
Separately, National Intelligence Agency (BIN) director Gen. (ret) A.M. Hendropriyono said Endriartono had told him beforehand about his plan to resign.
Hendropriyono said Endriartono had decided to tender his resignation as he had already reached retirement age.
"As a colleague, I asked him to complete his duties as the state is still in need of his services," said Hendropriyono, who was recently promoted to the rank of honorary four-star general by Megawati, a decision that was opposed by Endriartono as it flew in the face of established procedures.
Indonesia Military Head Resigns, Replaced By Hardline Gen
JAKARTA (AP)--Indonesia's military chief has resigned and President Megawati Sukarnoputri has replaced him with a hardline general known for his xenophobic remarks and criticism of rights activists, officials said Saturday.
Critics questioned the motive and timing of the moves, since they came little more than a week before Megawati was scheduled to hand power to president-elect Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Oct. 20.
Gen. Endriantono Sutarto, who has headed the military since 2002, submitted his resignation letter Sept. 24. Megawati formally notified parliament of his resignation and replacement Friday.
Parliament speaker Agung Laksono said Saturday there was nothing unusual about the moves because Endriantono had long talked of retiring and Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu was one of the candidates in line to replace him.
"I received a letter from President Megawati regarding her approval of the resignation of General Endriantono as military chief and the assignment of Ryamizard as his replacement," Laksono said. "The reason was that Endriantono is now 57 years old."
The change must be approved by the newly elected parliament, although no commissions to discuss the issue are yet in place. And even if parliament approves Ryacudu's appointment, Yudhoyono could still replace him with his own choice when he takes office.
Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Tono Suratman said the military would honor the new appointment, but he joined several legislators in questioning the timing of the moves.
"This seems strange that Megawati would accept the resignation of Endriantono at the end of her term," parliament member Abdillah Toha said, according to Saturday's Republika newspaper. "This should be a decision for the new president. Let him appoint the new military chief."
Endriantono hasn't commented on his resignation. But sources close to the general said he opposed Megawati's recent decision to promote interim Security Minister Hari Sabarno and Intelligence Chief A.M. Hendropriyono to four-star generals.
Ryacudu is a staunch nationalist who has earned a reputation over the years for making controversial remarks.
He hailed soldiers who killed a peace-advocating separatist leader as "heroes," called two Germans shot by troops "stupid" for vacationing in a dangerous part of the country, and said human rights workers should have their "heads knocked off."
He also is fond of saying that Indonesia is overrun with spies from Australia, the U.S., U.K. and Israel.
In 1999, the U.S. slapped a ban on Indonesia's military, following the massacre of 1,500 East Timorese during the country's independence vote. Ryacudu and other hardline nationalist generals have since voiced their anger over Jakarta's close ties with the U.S. in its war against terrorism.
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