Abri hunts man behind anti-Suharto leaflets

Pamphlets call for Indonesian leader’s replacement

THE Indonesian armed forces (Abri) has said it was investigating the circulation of leaflets calling for President Suharto’s replacement.

Abri’s chief of socio-political affairs, Lieutenant-General Syarwan Hamid, said the military was looking into the matter after the leaflets were distributed during a United Development Party (PPP) election campaign in East Jakarta last Wednesday.

“We will not give any names until we have sufficient evidence,” The Jakarta Post yesterday quoted him as saying.

He said that the military was looking for the mastermind behind the printing and circulation of the leaflets.

Military-linked sources told The Straits Times that the pamphlets were probably distributed by people posing as Megawati loyalists and elements of the now-defunct People’s Democratic Party (PRD).

Security forces detained several PRD members last July for subversive activities and linked them to the banned Indonesian Communist Party.

Sources said that several of them were released by the authorities late last year.

“They are on the loose and behind many of the troubles in this election,” said one source.

Abri Commander-in-Chief, General Feisal Tanjung, said on Sunday that the military was studying the leaflet’s contents.

These carried pictures of PPP chairman Ismail Hasan Metareum and ousted Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) leader Megawati Soekarnopurti, with the heading, A Democratic Coalition Of Mega-Bintang People.

Besides asking Mr Suharto to step down, the leaflet also recommends:
* Removing some of the current Cabinet ministers.
* Rejecting Abri’s socio-political role.
* PDI and PPP representation in Cabinet.
* Lowering prices of basic commodities.
* Eradicating collusion, corruption and unfair business practices.
* Examining the personal wealth of sons and daughters of the President, ministers and other officials.

Lt-Gen Syarwan Hamid said that the military had anticipated the circulation of such leaflets after news about a possible PPP-Megawati alliance last week.

“The leaflets were made by people who do not want to see the election succeed,” he said.

He said that conspirators had infiltrated the election campaign to create chaos.

“As election day nears, their actual mission is becoming apparent,” he said. “In East Java and Jakarta, people attending a PPP campaign were found carrying a PDI flag with the communist symbol of a hammer and sickle.”

Meanwhile, Mr Metareum has denied any connection with the distribution of the controversial leaflets.

According to the leaflets, he was said to be involved an alliance with Ms Megawati to topple Mr Suharto.

He told reporters last week that the leaflets were slanderous and aimed at destroying both his and the PPP’s reputation.

He denied there was an alliance with Ms Megawati and said that his party was not seeking drastic reform through a coup.

The PPP had no intention to join any movement pushing to overthrow the government.

“Instead, we want democratic and constitutional change in government,” he said.

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