No way to rush Gus Dur out of office : Amien

After a week of threats and counter-threats, President Abdurrahman Wahid’s ardent foes are learning a hard truth: The Indonesian constitution will not help them throw him out in a hurry.

His most vocal critic, People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Amien Rais, yesterday conceded that legislators were “powerless” to call a snap session.

He said they were still brainstorming ways to speed up the impeachment process but “kept hitting the wall”.

“As ridiculous as it may seem, the most powerful legislative body in Indonesia is in a position of weakness when it comes to dealing with the executive,” he told The Straits Times.

“We are still bound by the archaic laws of the Suharto era where the legislature does not have any power to punish the President.

“This means that Gus Dur can survive longer by default. The rules of the game are in his favour.”

He said his National Mandate Party and Muslim factions in parliament still wanted to impeach the President immediately.

A petition calling for an emergency MPR session has so far collected 220 signatures in the 500-seat Parliament, despite a boycott ordered by leaders of the two largest parties – Golkar and Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P).

Mr Amien said that only if the plan for early impeachment fell through completely, would he concede defeat and give the president his three months to reply to the charges leveled against him.

A senior PDI-P legislator yesterday said: “Amien is not being realistic in his calls for an early session because that is the only way forward for more anarchy in the country.”

The President’s visit to East Java on Friday appears to have placated his followers. Yesterday, pro- and anti-Gus Dur groups staged prayer gatherings in Jakarta, East and Central Java. No violence was reported.

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