Megawati and military support me, says Gus Dur

President Abdurrahman Wahid yesterday sought to project a united front with his deputy and the military in an effort to pre-empt a humiliating vote against him when Parliament meets today to decide whether to censure him over two financial scandals.

The Muslim cleric declared confidently that he had the backing of Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri and the powerful armed forces (TNI).

“Sister Mega supports me,” he told reporters after a morning huddle with her and the top military brass at her official residence.

And to the question of whether the TNI backed him, he replied: “It’s the same. Nothing is wrong.”

He did not say how the two would support him.

Sources told The Straits Times that the President used the meeting as a “peace initiative” to assuage Ms Megawati’s anger over comments he made last week to Muslim scholars that he would expose her husband Taufik Kiemas’ shady business dealings if she did not back his presidency.

The President also took the opportunity to tell her that he had no intention of revoking a presidential decree he signed in August last year that gave her powers to run day-to-day government.

A senior official of the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P), which Ms Megawati leads, said the President appeared willing to “share power more equally”.

Noted the source: “He has to make a serious compromise. He can’t afford to lose Ibu Mega’s support when a large number of legislators are on the offensive against him. He needs her backing to survive.”

But it was not immediately clear what the Vice-President’s position was, with a late-night meeting scheduled yesterday with the PDI-P executive board.

Ms Megawati had said earlier this week that the PDI-P, which controls a third of Parliament, should show its unity by speaking with one voice on Mr Abdurrahman’s alleged involvement in the scandals.

PDI-P legislators later said they would probably take a “softer stance” towards the President if he gave in to their demands. The PDI-P and several other major parties had signalled that they would accept the special commission report that concluded that Mr Abdurrahman was guilty of wrongdoing in the Bulogate and Bruneigate scandals.

But impeachment has always seemed a distant possibility. Some legislators like Golkar’s Mr Rully Chairul Azwar said that the threat of mass violence in the country would “put the brakes” on tough actions.

As for the military, senior officers told The Straits Times that the TNI would go with whatever the other legislators wanted. Said an army general: “We are neutral. We will support whoever is constitutionally elected.”

Posted in Indonesia