Party sets ‘100-day target’ for Megawati to take over

Vice-President said to be flustered by Gus Dur’s reluctance to step down and ready to back moves to impeach him.

Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s political party has set a 100-day timeframe for her to become the country’s next leader.

In a clear sign that opponents of President Abdurrahman Wahid were in no mood to compromise, sources in the party said the popular Ms Megawati was flustered by the Indonesian leader’s reluctance to resign, and was ready to support impeachment proceedings against him.

“We have set ourselves 100 days to take over power,” said a senior Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) member who has strong links to her husband, Mr Taufik Kiemas.

“The easiest thing is for Gus Dur to resign now. But because he is unwilling to do so, we have to chart out a route to succession. We can do it by August.”

The source said that Ms Megawati had indicated that she did not support a Cabinet reshuffle, Mr Abdurrahman’s power-sharing plan or his idea of calling a snap general election.

At a meeting with political leaders of key parties later this week, she is expected to make some of her concerns clear.

“She has made up her mind that he has to go but keeps maintaining that we must replace Gus Dur constitutionally. She is against any other approach,” the source said.

Other party sources said the PDI-P was also drawing up a list of trusted names for her government.

They disclosed that several current ministers, including Chief Security minister Bambang Yudhoyono and Transport Minister Agum Gumelar, were likely to play key roles in a Megawati Cabinet, together with the possible return of PDI-P stalwart Laksamana Sukardi in the economics portfolio.

But even as these moves were said to be underway, Ms Megawati’s younger sister, Ms Rachmawati, called on her to take a leaf from history and act like a statesman by stepping down if she could not work with Mr Abdurrahman.

She referred to former Vice-President Mohammad Hatta’s decision to quit in 1956 because of policy differences with then-president Sukarno, their father.

“Both Hatta and Sukarno remained the best of friends after that difficult period. So, why not resign?” she said on television.

Political observers suggested that Ms Rachmawati’s suggestion might have been aimed at keeping her sister above the fray of Indonesian politics, by avoiding a protracted battle that might undermine the Vice-President’s standing.

But there seems little chance of that happening.

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