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The moment of Megawati JAKARTA - Megawati Soekarnoputri could well have been thinking, "She who laughs last laughs longest," as she was sworn in as the country's president on Monday. Before the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) members who voted against her in the 1999 presidential election, Megawati vowed to cooperate with all elements of the nation to cope with the problems the country was facing.
"I'm aware of the onerous tasks we must carry out in the future and of the necessity of taking immediate and concrete action to defuse the prolonged crisis. "I also realize that I myself will be unable to overcome all of the outstanding problems. Strong discipline and a spirit of cooperation are needed so that we can share the burden. A favorable political climate is also required to allow the nation to emerge from the crisis," said Megawati, who received a standing ovation from the floor.
Her election came just a few minutes after the Assembly revoked the mandate it had given to Abdurrahman Wahid on the grounds that he had exceeded his authority, particularly by issuing a decree suspending the Assembly and the House of Representatives in the early hours of Monday. All 591 lawmakers from the nine political party factions that supported the snap special session voted for the ousting of Gus Dur, as Abdurrahman is familiarly known, and the appointment of Megawati as the new president.
"Based on the fact that the factions have rejected the issuance by President Abdurrahman Wahid of a decree declaring a state of emergency and its political consequences as provided for by Chapter 8 of the 1945 Constitution, MPR Decrees No. 3/1978 and No. 2/2000, Abdurrahman Wahid has been removed from office in midterm as he is truly guilty of having contravened the Constitution; and Megawati is hereby appointed as the new president of the Republic of Indonesia," said Assembly Speaker Amien Rais, who presided over the special session.
The Indonesian Military/National Police faction adopted an unusually overt stance opposing the presidential decree. Vice Admiral Ronggo Sunarso, spokesman for the faction, said both the military and the police were united in supporting the Assembly's rejection of the decree and calling for Gus Dur's ouster.
The Assembly resorted to voting on all of its decisions because of the absence of the National Awakening Party (PKB) and Love the Nation Democratic Party (PDKB) factions at the special session as required by the Assembly's standing orders. To show that its stance in opposing the special session had not changed, the PKB announced its refusal to recognize Megawati's elevation to the presidency.
"The PKB rejects all of the results of the MPR special session," PKB deputy secretary-general Chotibul Umam Wiranu said during a media conference at the PKB secretariat in Kuningan, Central Jakarta. Following Gus Dur's ouster, Amien handed the Assembly's decision to Megawati and then the Assembly heard Megawati take the presidential oath of office in the presence of foreign diplomats.
In taking the presidential oath, Megawati, who was dressed in a white and purple kebaya (traditional attire), pledged she would comply with the Constitution in running her government. Lawmakers shook hands with each other while several from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) supporting Megawati shouted Allahhu Akbar (God is Great).
Taufik Kiemas, Megawati's husband, bowed his head and shed tears upon witnessing his wife's appointment as the new president. In her maiden press conference as President at the vice presidential office, Megawati said Gus Dur's cabinet was suspended as of Tuesday but that all ministers should continue to carry out their tasks but avoid making crucial decisions until she had formed a new cabinet in a few days time.
"I will announce the cabinet ministers within the next few days and at the same time I will announce the work program of the cabinet," she said. Departing from the original arrangements, Megawati refused to hold a question-and-answer session with the hordes of expectant journalists.
Lawmakers hailed Megawati's appointment as the new President, expressing the hope that she could lead the nation based upon close cooperation with all of the political parties so as to form an effective government and overcome the political and economic crisis. Dimyati Hartono, an outspoken legislator from the PDI Perjuangan, stated that the special session was constitutional and Megawati's appointment legitimate as the motions concerned had been supported by two thirds of the 700-member MPR.
"All sides, including former president Gus Dur, should accept the Assembly's decision as the special session was supported by the majority of lawmakers," he said. He called on Megawati to be consistent with her pledge to cooperate with other parties so that her government could survive until 2004.
Bomer Pasaribu, deputy secretary-general of Golkar, said Megawati should learn from her predecessor's experience in forming her cabinet so as to ensure her position until 2004 and to achieve major advances over the next 100 days. "We have seen that she won the full support of the Assembly. This means that all of the factions are hoping she will successfully lead the nation," he said.
Kwik Kian Gie, former coordinating minister for the economy, called on Megawati to form a coalition cabinet to win the support of the political parties in the legislature. "It must be a coalition cabinet, but I am not sure whether it will be 100 percent or not. But, I hope that it represents all power elements, at least until 2004," Kwik said.
Agum Gumelar, Gus Dur's coordinating minister for political, social and security affairs, said he accepted all the decisions the Assembly had made during the special session. "And I will support the new government that emerges from the special session," he remarked at the legislative complex before attending the session.
The special session, previously scheduled for Aug. 1, 2001, was brought forward following the appointment by Gus Dur last Friday of Com. Gen. Chaeruddin Ismail as acting chief of the National Police without the approval of the House of Representatives. Besides going against MPR Decree No. 7/2000 that requires House approval for the appointment of police and military commanders, the President's move was criticized as increasing tensions within the police force.

Posted in Politics @ 24 July 2001 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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