Megawati’s party fires salvo against Gus Dur

The PDI-P has signalled that it will be pressing ahead with a potentially fatal second censure motion against the embattled Indonesian leader.

Indonesia’s biggest political party yesterday fired the first salvo against President Abdurrahman Wahid by pressing ahead with a potentially fatal second censure motion against the embattled leader.

Just a day after the President had defiantly brushed aside corruption charges in Parliament, the Indonesian Democratic Party – Struggle (PDI-P) set up a special committee to draft a memorandum that is just a step away from impeaching the Indonesian leader.

Sources said that Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who heads the PDI-P, gave the green light to the eight-member panel at a closer-door meeting of senior party executives.

They included several hardliners, such as former economic czar Kwik Kian Gie, Mr Julius Usman, and others who more importantly sat on a parliamentary probe team that found Mr Abdurrahman guilty of complicity in two damning financial scandals last month.

A PDI-P source told The Straits Times: “Megawati did not hesitate to tell us to form the team. She believes it is well within our constitutional rights to go ahead with another formal rebuke.

“I think we have gone past the point of no return in wanting to bring him down.”

PDI-P support is crucial if the President is to escape impeachment, given that it has the largest parliamentary presence.

Mr Abdurrahman and his Nation Awakening Party are well aware of this.

They have been trying hard to convince several PDI-P members linked closely to Ms Megawati’s husband, Mr Taufik Kiemas, to stick with the status quo in return for personal favours.

But recent comments by the President about Mr Taufik’s shady business deals have created some difficulty in getting total support from this faction.

PDI-P legislators said that it was unlikely to exert much influence given that it comprised only about 20 per cent of the 153 seats in the House of Representatives.

Noted a party member: “There are differences in the party. But this is gradually being swept under the carpet by the need to get rid of the President.”

Political observers said that the PDI-P’s stance on a second memorandum was bound to influence other parties who had until April 30 to craft a response.

The Straits Times understands that the Reform faction yesterday also set up a special committee to draft a motion against the President.

Conspicuously missing so far is Golkar, which commands the second largest number of parliamentary seats.

House Speaker Akbar Tandjung, who heads Golkar, appeared to be guarded when asked if the party would fire a second warning.

He said: “We will study the response. We will listen to our members and they will be asked to give their opinions.”

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