Abri to review ties with Golkar and the President


Senior Armed Forces officials will also consider separating the police force from the command structure.

INDONESIA’S powerful armed forces (Abri) will undertake “comprehensive reforms” and restructure the organisation in the next five years.

On the cards is a review of the military’s relationship with its Supreme Commander – the President – and the ruling Golkar party.

Senior officers are also contemplating separating the police force from the Armed Forces command structure.

Abri’s socio-political chief Bambang Yudhoyono said the changes would follow soon after a “thorough re-assessment” of its “dual-function” role in Indonesia.

“We need to redefine and re-position ourselves, given the challenging tasks of ending the economic crisis and carrying out political reforms,” Lieutenant-General Yudhoyono said at the sidelines of a seminar here on the future role of Abri.

He said the three-day conference started the process of introspection into the military doctrine of dwifungsi, or dual function, which allows Abri to play both a civilian and military role that is enshrined in law.

Several senior officers and academics felt it was time for the military to re-fashion its political doctrine – but not necessarily do away with it.

While seminar participants did not question the basic principle of dual function, they expressed doubts about the acceptable parameters of military intervention in politics – in particular, its efforts to prop up Golkar.

Lt-Gen Yudhoyono said Abri would refrain from intervening in the activities of Golkar and other parties as it had done in previous years.

“I think the most appropriate direction Abri will take is to keep a distance from all political parties,” he said. “The Golkar family – which includes Abri, the bureaucracy and Golkar – is no longer relevant.”

He brushed aside suggestions that the military was using a number of retired generals, who joined Golkar recently, and the Indonesian Democratic Party to influence the outcome of next year’s general election.

He said the retired officers were entitled to join any party they wanted.

Another area that needed attention was Abri’s relationship with the President.

Lt-Gen Yudhoyono said the 1945 Constitution was “cloudy” on this issue.

“It should also be clear when a president should function as the head of state, the head of government, or Abri Supreme Commander.”

Several participants also called on Abri to return to its role as an armed force that excluded the police.

They said the police could focus on internal-security functions while the military would be a “war force”.

Posted in Indonesia