Gus Dur’s hush-hush talks with Wiranto
INDONESIAN ELECTION ’99
At the meeting, the Muslim leader complained about alleged military meddling in the vote-counting process.
THE leader of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation, Mr Abdurrahman Wahid, held secret talks with armed forces (Abri) chief General Wiranto on Monday night to complain that Special Forces (Kopassus) soldiers were “meddling” in the vote-counting process.
The Nadhlatul Ulama (NU) chairman has called for an emergency government to be set up after accusing the ruling Golkar party of fraud in the polls.
“He wanted Pak Wiranto to give assurances that the military would stay neutral right up to the presidential election to be held in the next few months,” said an adviser of Gen Wiranto who attended the hour-long meeting.
He did not elaborate on what the Kopassus soldiers were doing but The Straits Times understands that several of them had insisted on accompanying the ballot boxes to their tally centres at various districts in and out of Java. Under the new election rules, the military and civilian bureaucracy are not allowed to be involved.
Mr Abdurrahman, who is a presidential contender on the ticket of the NU-backed Nation Awakening Party (PKB), warned that if cheating took place, there would be a violent public backlash.
“His call to establish an emergency government is a response to perceived campaign violations by Golkar,” said the source. Analysts said that Mr Abdurrahman, who is known for making controversial statements, said “it is nothing but a veiled threat” which would be difficult to push through.
“The Yoda of Indonesian politics is losing perspective,” said a Western diplomat, adding that the Islamic leader, during meetings with foreign observers in the last week, was already declaring himself the country’s next president.
Mr Abdurrahman was the least bit ruffled by this plan. In fact, he upped the ante on Tuesday after meeting opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri of the Indonesian Democratic Party- Perjuangan (PDI-Struggle) to express concerns that the slow vote count was due to attempts by Golkar to manipulate the final results.
NU vice-chairman Rosi Munir said that this was even more evident with Golkar chief Akbar Tandjung’s efforts “to intervene” in the General Election Commission (KPU) after casting aspersions on the latest results so far which showed the New Order relic trailing in third spot, way behind PDI-Struggle.
He said that Golkar, which had its own tally from party representatives at the 350,000 polling stations around the country, wanted a recount which sparked fears that vote rigging could take place and was the major reason why the final tally was not in.
“It is a blatant attempt to interfere with the KPU which has so far been neutral,” he said. “Golkar is playing with fire if it thinks it can muscle its way in.”
Mr Akbar, however, scoffed at suggestions that Golkar was playing dirty. “I want Mr Wahid to produce evidence that my party is cheating and there is little logic to us wanting to hold back the counting,” he told The Straits Times. He explained that it was not in Golkar’s interest to do so.
He said that contrary to Mr Abdurrahman’s suggestion, he wanted the KPU to speed up the findings and show the regional variations in voting patterns.
“It is right now skewed in favour of opposition parties like PKB and PDI-Struggle,” he said. “Why is the KPU only releasing the results of areas where these parties are strong? It is misleading the public and could cause problems if they create false hopes.”