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Everything will be okay: President JAKARTA - President Abdurrahman Wahid played down on Sunday security fears in the wake of rumored mass rallies between people in support of and against him on Monday. "God willing, there will be nothing," Abdurrahman said after a meeting at the Merdeka Palace on Sunday morning to discuss security in the capital.
However, without elaborating, he said that the authorities were prepared should violence break out. Also present in the meeting were Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri, Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Endriartono Sutarto, National Police Chief Gen. Bimantoro and chief of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Arie. J. Kumaat.
Rumors have been circulating that rallies were planned for Monday in support of a House of Representatives (DPR) probe into Abdurrahman's alleged involvement in two financial scandals. Monday is also the day the House special committee is due to present their findings and recommendations to a closed plenary session of the DPR.
The House's special committee is investigating the fraudulent withdrawal of Rp 35 billion (US$3.3 million) from the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) by Abdurrahman's masseur and also a $2 million donation from the Sultan of Brunei which the President claims was a personal gift. Abdurrahman said he was informed during the meeting that some 85,000 of his supporters were already on their way to Jakarta.
"This morning, Mr. Ryamizard (Riacudu, chief of the Army's Strategic Reserves Command) reported that some 50,000 people from East, Central and West Java are coming to Jakarta," Abdurrahman was quoted by Antara as saying. He also said he had been told by leaders in Banten province, West Java, that 35,000 more supporters were preparing to head to Jakarta to support him.
Abdurrahman's supporters are mostly from the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country's largest Muslim organization he had chaired for years until his election to presidency in October 1999. While the special commission was putting the final touch to the conclusion of its months of investigations, Abdurrahman's National Awakening Party (PKB) accused the commission of lacking a legal basis and "has become the source of people's disintegration."
"...Through the commission the House no longer performs its controlling duty, but a systematic act of corroding the government's legitimacy and character assassination in a bid to oust the President," PKB deputy secretary Chatibul Umam Wiranu said in a statement released on Sunday. As a precaution, NU leaders issued a last-ditch call on all its members, regardless of their political affiliation, to refrain themselves from the use of violence.
"(Everybody) should uphold common sense in the forum to settle political conflict which is held through honest, open and sincere deliberation, for the nation's sake," the statement, signed by NU lawmaking body's chief Sahal Mahfudz and deputy Masdar Faris Mas'udi. Later in the day, leader of the NU youth wing Ansor, Saifullah Yusuf, said his organization could not be held responsible for any violence on Monday.
"We have officially told them (NU members) not to go to Jakarta and if they insist on going ... then it is no longer our responsibility and the police should arrest them if necessary," Saifullah told The Jakarta Post. In the West Java capital of Bandung on Sunday, House Speaker Akbar Tandjung also called on both supporters and opponents of Abdurrahman not to stage rallies at the DPR complex on Monday to prevent violence from taking place.
Meanwhile on Saturday, the presidential office issued a statement warning that "elements of the New Order" in the DPR were trying to stage a political comeback by sabotaging the country's reform movement. The statement said that Abdurrahman would no longer apply a "humanistic approach" to remnants of the New Order regime and he will now have "only one option which is to implement a reform agenda with zero tolerance".
"Members of the past regime, particularly those who were in the political mainstream and bureaucracy, have been given an opportunity to repent, learn their lessons and regain public confidence ... but, after a one-year period, President Abdurrahman Wahid is deeply disappointed to see that they've wasted the opportunity," the statement said. The statement accused the New Order remnants of applying "ends justify the means" approach to meet their objectives, including "reviving New Order power".
"So, if there is any one trying to prevent the reform agenda from taking place, they will have to face the law and the public," the statement said. The statement shied away, however, from mentioning whether the House special committee was also an attempt masterminded by the New Order regime to undermine Abdurrahman's government.

Posted in Politics @ 29 January 2001 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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