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Gus Dur, Megawati hold crisis talks JAKARTA - A flurry of meetings were held within the country's two highest offices on Tuesday as senior Cabinet officials tried to seek a political compromise to salvage the administration amid tension between President Abdurrahman Wahid and Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri. Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono emerged as the central figure in the negotiations, which focused on a deal to delegate the running of the government to Megawati.
"The most realistic choice now is to look at the possibility of sharing power between the President and the Vice President ... we need to reconsider whether Presidential Decree No. 121 is really effective," Susilo told journalists at around 10 p.m., minutes after chairing a meeting of seven senior ministers. Susilo, who leads a team of seven ministers tasked by Abdurrahman to give advice on the leadership crisis, was referring to a decree relating to the handover of the day-to-day running of the government to Megawati, issued after the annual session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) in August 2000.
Politicians have suggested that the decree was ineffective because the President has so far been reluctant to hand over authority to Megawati. Susilo denied that the team had called on the President to resign and dismissed concerns that the current administration was no longer effective. His remarks came after the team had spent the day shuttling between Abdurrahman and Megawati, trying to design an "amicable" political solution.
The day began with a three-hour meeting between Megawati and the ministers at the Vice President's residence on Jl. Teuku Umar, Central Jakarta. That was followed by a meeting with the president at Merdeka Palace at around 11:30 a.m.. "We were discussing ways of developing a constructive political solution and the President has instructed that the Vice President and ministers continue the dialog to find a suitable solution," Susilo told reporters after the 90-minute unscheduled meeting which included Abdurrahman and Megawati.
Other ministers in the team are Minister of Home Affairs and Regional Autonomy Surjadi Soedirdja, Minister of Defense Mahfud M.D., Minister of Foreign Affairs Alwi Shihab, Minister of Justice and Human Rights Baharuddin Lopa, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Rizal Ramli and Attorney General Marzuki Darusman. Megawati was the last to arrive, discreetly entering Merdeka Palace through a side entrance.
The Vice President was seen leaving at around 1 p.m., at which time she headed to a weekly meeting of her party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan). While the exact details of the meeting at the palace were sketchy, Lopa hinted that the team was trying to find "the best possible solution that can peacefully end the political impasse". "We are trying to come up with a solution that can satisfy everyone ... what exactly this is going to be is still being worked out," Lopa said.
Presidential spokesman Wimar Witoelar said later on Tuesday afternoon that Abdurrahman demanded any solution be "one that would satisfy all and does not violate the Constitution". He said the effort by team members to safeguard the current process of democratization was not aimed at saving Abdurrahman, but "the political process for all". Wimar also said that the President had canceled appointments and several out-of-town trips on Tuesday.


The whirlwind of activity arrived at a time when Abdurrahman's options have become further limited due to the issuance of a second memorandum of censure by the House of Representatives, which brings him one step closer to a special Assembly session and possible impeachment proceedings. Reports said that, during a breakfast meeting with military officials on Saturday, the President proposed that he would suspend the House through a presidential decree.
The idea, however, was immediately rejected by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Endriartono Sutarto. Many believe that the only viable options available to Abdurrahman now are his immediate resignation or the transfer of much of his authority to Megawati, which could leave him primarily acting as a figurehead. A source close to Megawati told The Jakarta Post later in the day that the meeting at Megawati's residence discussed strengthening the presidential decree on transferal of the running of government to Megawati into an MPR decree.
Later in the day, a PDI Perjuangan official admitted that the meeting between the President, Vice President and the seven ministers was postponing Megawati's plan to convene a meeting of political party leaders. "We will wait for further developments ... the planned meeting between political parties is important but we want to do it at the right time," deputy chairman Roy B. Janis said, adding that no date had been set of for the planned meeting. Pramono Anung Wibowo, deputy secretary general of PDI Perjuangan, said the party preferred to look for a political compromise, explaining that an MPR special session would not necessarily impeach the President.

Posted in Politics @ 09 May 2001 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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