No MPR session this year, says Amien
This is due to suspicions that several groups are working behind the scenes in a bid to topple President Abdurrahman
JAKARTA – National Assembly (MPR) chairman Amien Rais said that Indonesia’s highest legislative body will not hold a special session this year amid speculation that several groups were working behind the scenes to support one to topple President Abdurrahman Wahid.
Speaking to reporters after meeting the 59-year-old Islamic cleric, Dr Amien explained that there were little grounds to getthe 1,000 MPR members to take a vote on the President in a setting that ironically led to the fall of his predecessor, Dr B. J. Habibie, in October last year.
“A special session will be held only if there is an urgent issue to be addressed,” he maintained. “This could be a state of emergency or to meet demands for the election to be brought forward. I don’t see a need for such a session.”
The American-trained political scientist, who has been increasingly critical of the administration, told The Straits Times in an interview last week that the legislators would expect to accept Mr Abdurrahman’s progress report of his 10-months in office even if the track record was “not so good”.
But there would be concerted moves, he disclosed, to get the President to resign next year if the government continued toshow little progress in redressing the country’s economic and political problems.
“We must be fair to him,” he said. “It is mission impossible for any leader to overcome 32 years of Suharto rule.”Dr Amien’s comments took place against a background of reports that a constellation of radical Islamic forces and military elements were keen on a special session because it offered them “the most constitutional means” to bring down Mr Abdurrahman.
Senior army sources said that the armed forces, which still holds a critical presence in the MPR, was still adopting a “wait and see” approach and as an institution would toe the line the President takes.
But they admit that there are disgruntled elements – affected by the military shakeup – who are keen to launch a “counter offensive” against the reformist leader during the August assembly.
They are joined by the Amien Rais-led Central Axis group coloured by their modernist Islamic outlook and opposed to several of Mr Abdurrahman’s policies which they say are aimed at undermining their power in the fragile coalition government.
Sources believe that the “unholy alliance” between the two groups might be behind the recent demonstrations in the capitalfor a jihad or holy war in the troubled Maluku islands and also to oppose plans to repeal the ban on the communist party.The Nation Awakening Party, the political arm of the 30-million-strong Nadhlatul Ulama which Mr Abdurrahman used to head, lashed out at Dr Amien last week for possible involvement in the jihad protests, calling on him to resign.
But Dr Amien brushed aside suggestions that he was involved in any scheme to undermine the government.
The MPR leader maintained that his public criticism of the President should not be construed as a means to bring him down.
“We can all criticise him, the MPR, the press, as sharply as we want,” he stressed.
“But it does mean that there are forces working behind the scenes to topple him.”