Gus Dur may reshuffle Cabinet

Loyal advisers urge President to opt for power-sharing, but he remains keen to call a snap general election.

A Cabinet reshuffle is on the cards as Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid seeks to woo parliamentary foes plotting to oust him.

Palace loyalists said that this was “an integral part” of his power-sharing plan with Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri, under which her Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) would fill several key government positions.

A team of political advisers made up of several Cabinet ministers allied to the President had made the recommendation to him after Parliament formally rebuked him on Monday.

It was one of three options aimed at blocking possible impeachment against him.

The other two were a moratorium among politicians to stop bickering, and calling a snap general election. Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab said changing the ministerial line-up “makes sense”, but added that the 60-year-old leader had yet to make up his mind on the matter.

With fewer than 30 days to go before he must respond to Parliament, the President is fast running out of ideas. Moderates in his Nation Awakening Party (PKB) appear to be pushing for a power-sharing arrangement with the other political parties, especially the PDI-P.

PKB chairman Matori Abdul Jalil indicated several times this week that the President had to make compromises to survive politically.

The President has not signalled publicly his most favoured option. But palace insiders say he remains in favour of declaring a state of emergency or even martial law, disbanding the House of Representatives (DPR) and calling for fresh polls. “He thinks he has enough justification to declare an emergency because the DPR is undermining the government in running the country,” noted a well-connected source.

“But he has no support and even if he does get his way in having elections, his party will get only a fraction of what they got in the last election.”

The Indonesian armed forces (TNI) has signalled that it is not in favour of his plan, sparking an angry rebuke from Mr Abdurrahman that he would axe current military chief A.S. Widodo if he refused to follow orders.

Military analysts believe that this would only generate further tension with the generals who have tried hard to stay above the fray in recent weeks.

It is not just the TNI that opposes his plans.

More significantly, sources said that Ms Megawati has indicated privately that she will not support them, even any move to reshuffle the Cabinet.

Like other politicians, she has come to believe that he must go, albeit in a constitutional manner.

PDI-P sources said that she would have been prepared to listen to his ideas of power-sharing or a Cabinet overhaul several months ago but he refused to budge then.

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