No insider plot to discredit Wiranto, says Abri


The military is united, says its spokesman, denying the existence of factions out to oust chief Gen Wiranto.

THE Indonesian military yesterday dismissed suggestions that a rift within the powerful armed forces (Abri) had led to the bloody clashes between troops and demonstrators two weeks ago.

Abri spokesman Maj-General Syamsul Mu’arif said this at a press conference here when asked if there was a calculated attempt by a military faction to discredit commander General Wiranto.

“Abri is one and united. Gen Wiranto himself will vouch for that,” he said.

On the apparent lack of coordination among troops during the crackdown, hesaid: “Like in any organisation, there will be differences of views between top personnel on how to do certain things. But this does not mean that Abri is divided.”

But he declined to comment on the existing opinion differences.

Insiders believe it is likely that a “united front” between Muslim-oriented officers and civilians close to the palace could be conspiring to bring down Gen Wiranto for his failure to control the troop violence against protesters.

This is the line being pushed by Wiranto loyalists, who say that since the formation of the transitional government, he has been a victim of attempts to oust him.

An army general said that since June, there had been at least seven attempts to “bring him down”.

“There is this big fear that he will end up being President of Indonesia one day.

“They are engaging in political assassination to prevent that from happening because if it does, their own careers will end,” he said.

But there seems to be no clear sign about whom Gen Wiranto’s enemies within Abri are.

He has managed to “purge” the military of elements close to his one-time rival Prabowo Subianto, who was ousted from the key Strategic and Reserve Commandafter former President Suharto’s fall in May.

Military insiders say there are still “dissatisfied elements” within the ranks and that a “purge” is being carried out gradually.

But they say Abri is still hard put to pin blame on these elements for recent problems, such as Black Friday and even the mysterious East Java killings.

The use of live ammunition to kill some protesters has also raised questions on the possibility of a third-party involvement with links to officers acting outside the chain of command.

A senior Abri source even went so far as to say that Special Forces soldiers, who deserted the military after the May riots, could be behind the problems. “The ghost of a ‘dethroned prince’ may yet continue to haunt us for some time more,” he said.

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