‘No stopping action on Gus Dur’

Hard to hinder parliamentary process that may lead to impeachment of President later this year, says Mega.

Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri has said it would be difficult to impede a process that could lead to a special parliamentary session to impeach President Abdurrahman Wahid later this year.

In a sign of her declining support for the President, she put paid to recent comments by him that she would not support another censure memorandum against him and would back him until 2004, when his term runs out.

“It is a process and nothing can be done to stop it,” former Justice Minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra quoted her as saying after a private meeting on Thursday.

But Ms Megawati, continuing to maintain the moral high ground, made it clear to him that the legislators had to follow the Constitution.

That means that Parliament would have to follow the time-frame set out in the first censure memorandum, which if it runs its full course, gives the President about 100 days more in power.

The first motion, passed unanimously last month, gave him three months to respond to the charges of alleged complicity in the Bulogate and Bruneigate financial scandals.

If he did not do so, Parliament could then issue a second note and wait one month for his explanation. Failure to do so could trigger off calls for a special session of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), Indonesia’s highest legislative body, that up till now has remained powerless to act against Mr Abdurrahman, given his deputy’s reluctance.

But Ms Megawati’s increasingly bold statements in recent weeks have added fresh impetus to the calls for him to step down, especially from Muslim parties.

They appear to be closing ranks with the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) and Golkar – two of the largest parliamentary factions – in backing Ms Megawati to take over the presidency.

Muslim politicians have given assurances that her gender would no longer be an obstacle as was the case when she ran for the presidency in October 1999.

Mr Yusril, who heads the Muslim-based Crescent Star Party, disclosed that he had repeated this to her after she asked him whether it would be in her way again.

“There will not be a problem having a woman as President,” he said.

The President, meanwhile, maintained his defiant stance yesterday, saying that he would survive the growing political storm.

But his spokesman announced that he would soon give his response to the parliamentary censure motion and that he plans to form a “reconciliation forum” aimed at reducing political infighting.

Mr Abdurrahman yesterday also accused the local and foreign media of twisting the facts, denying reports that he was planning to reshuffle the Cabinet and even dissolve Parliament.

As for the growing chorus of complaints against him, he said: “Let them criticise, they will get bored eventually.”


‘I BECAME President to guard democracy, not kill it.’

– President Abdurrahman, accusing the local and foreign media of twisting the facts

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