Speaker calls for power sharing with Mega

But his idea for the V-P to handle day-to-day govt with Gus Dur as a symbolic head finds few takers, with some seeing it as a bid to save Golkar.

Indonesian Parliamentary Speaker Akbar Tandjung has called on President Abdurrahman Wahid to transfer substantial powers to his deputy to defuse a ticking political time-bomb.

He suggested the power-sharing arrangement as a compromise to end the political deadlock between the President and the lower House of Parliament which is moving to impeach the Indonesian leader.

But his idea for Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri to run day-to-day government, with the President as a symbolic head of state, was shot down almost immediately by several parliamentary factions, including the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P), which saw Mr Abdurrahman’s ouster as the only solution.

In an interview with The Straits Times, Mr Akbar said the political compromise he sought was one of three scenarios being brainstormed by legislators from the six factions in Parliament.

Another way out, he explained, was for the President to resign voluntarily and be replaced by Ms Megawati who could stay on until 2004.

The third option was for him to be impeached at a special session of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) by August this year, allowing his deputy to be moved up but with the possibility of snap elections a year later.

Mr Akbar conceded that the last two choices were “high on the list” of many legislators bent on toppling the erratic Mr Abdurrahman whose 17-month rule has been marked by policy blunders, ethnic clashes and separatist tensions. But his suggestion requires tinkering with the Constitution.

Given that Indonesia follows the presidential system, he said that the MPR would need to convene a special session by August to pass a decree outlining the power distribution between Ms Megawati and Mr Abdurrahman.

He said the Vice-President would have the powers to appoint Cabinet ministers and senior military officers. The President would be a symbolic state head and could nominate the country’s Chief Justice and ambassadors.

With the exception of the Muslim-based United Development Party (PPP), most of the other parties appeared to be averse to it.

Some argued that any such deal was aimed really at saving Mr Akbar, and his Golkar party, which will be the first to fall prey to the muscle politics of the President’s supporters as seen in East Java recently.

At the same time, several senior Golkar members, including Mr Akbar and former economic czar Ginandjar Kartasasmita, were being threatened with charges of corruption when they held office under the Suharto government. Sources said that they could be buckling under pressure from the palace.

But that has not stopped Golkar from setting up a committee to consider drafting a second motion against the President. Mr Akbar said that if the other parties went ahead with another censure motion, his party would have to follow suit.

That is becoming a big possibility given the prevailing hardline sentiments towards the President.

PDI-P legislators, who form the largest group in the 500-member Parliament, and representatives of the Reform faction and several Muslim parties, brushed aside any talk of a political compromise with Mr Abdurrahman.

Posted in Indonesia