Gus Dur ‘not giving up easily’

President Abdurrahman Wahid is mulling over the idea of a fresh general election even as he yesterday brushed aside a parliamentary censure against him as “unconstitutional”.

Palace insiders said that during crisis talks with aides and ministers on Tuesday, he also considered two other options they put to him: a moratorium among politicians to stop bickering, and power-sharing with influential Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

“He is not going to give up power so easily and is thinking of several ideas the opposition might want to consider,” an adviser said yesterday.

Legislators in Ms Megawati’s Indonesian Democratic Party-Perjuangan (PDI-P) heard about the options and would study them although the ideas were “still vague”.

But they were not too optimistic they could work, especially a snap election. The PDI-P’s Heri Achmadi said polls would also require approval from the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR): “Is Gus Dur really amenable? It is not a very clever idea.”

Palace loyalists have cautioned against convening the MPR – the highest legislative body – fearing opponents could use it to unseat the President.

An MPR decree would also be needed for any power-sharing deal with Ms Megawati. Defence Minister M.D. Mahfud added yesterday any such arrangement would also involve a Cabinet reshuffle.

Legislators said while the options had merit it was too late for Mr Abdurrahman to engage in horse-trading. He went on television yesterday and upset MPs during his five minute address by completely ignoring their censure of two days earlier.

Talk of a special session and impeachment proceedings also appeared to be gaining ground with Ms Megawati, who is expected to discuss this at a meeting with leaders of other parties this week.

Mr Abdurrahman resumed his regular breakfast meetings with her yesterday and a spokesman said the talks, which covered the censure, were “positive”.

But PDI-P member Melono Soewondo gave a different picture: “He keeps talking about a political compromise as long as it not touch his presidency or power. What sort of compromise is that? Ibu Mega won’t fall for any more sweet talk.”

Posted in Indonesia