Gus Dur : I won’t resign
Sorry for the ‘inconvenience’, he tells Indonesians, as aides threaten to expose his opponents for corruption.
Beleaguered President Abdurrahman Wahid struck a conciliatory note yesterday but ruled out resigning after Parliament initiated the first step towards his impeachment.
Revealing glimpses of his likely strategy in the months ahead, his aides issued a veiled threat to expose corruption cases involving his opponents.
He looked sombre yesterday as he addressed his first press conference after Parliament passed a formal censure motion scolding him for unethical behaviour in accepting a US$2 million (S$3.47 million) gift from the Sultan of Brunei and somehow allowing 35 billion rupiah (S$6.4 million) to be siphoned from a state body.
In a seven-minute speech, he said: “I apologise to the people for the inconvenience created during the current process of political education and events in the Parliament.”
He also took the opportunity to burnish his reformist credentials, saying he would work together with Parliament to amend a number of laws and reform the bureaucracy.
His contrition, however, stopped short of accepting the findings of a parliamentary panel that suggested he had lied about his involvement in the Buloggate and Bruneigate scandals.
He then left without taking any questions.
Presidential spokesman Wimar Witoelar said that Mr Abdurrahman would meet Parliament’s demand for an explanation of his role in the scandals, due in three months.
But the President was not quitting.
Mr Wimar also disclosed that Mr Abdurrahman would push ahead with investigations into a number of scandals, including previous violations of the rules of disbursement and corruption cases in the state logistics board (Bulog).
Palace sources told The Straits Times the President had summoned his aides to collect data on “financial irregularities” by Golkar members and former president Suharto’s children in the last 10 to 15 years.
Noted a source: “He is preparing to fight it out all the way. He wants to twist their arms with threats to expose damaging information so that they will think twice about impeaching him.”
He said the palace believed that Golkar, led by Parliamentary Speaker Akbar Tandjung, was instrumental in engineering moves to topple the President.
Doubts are now growing whether Mr Abdurrahman can last beyond August, when the People’s Consultative Assembly convenes for its annual session.
His power base is fast eroding, making it hard for him to fight a battle of attrition with his opponents.
The military, having revoked its self-imposed political neutrality, is fast losing patience with him, especially with rumours emanating from the palace that several top army generals would be axed soon.
And Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who controls the Indonesian Democratic Party- Struggle (PDI-P), the largest party in Parliament, is becoming increasingly ambivalent in her support for her long-time friend.
Said a Western diplomat: “His rivals might want to go for the jugular this year. The longer he survives, the more likely it is that he will see out the remainder of his term.”
For Indonesia, it means even more political uncertainty and economic stagnation ahead.
Said one investor with dealings in the country: “Everything is in a mess.”