Veiled Mega attack on Gus Dur

President Abdurrahman Wahid moved inexorably closer to impeachment as his influential deputy, Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri, launched a veiled attack against him yesterday for failing to resolve Indonesia’s problems.

With just eight days to go before Parliament is expected to push for a special session of the national assembly to hold him accountable for corruption and incompetence, Ms Megawati criticised him publicly for the first time.

She said Indonesia needed a leader who would put the country’s interests first – and not seek to accumulate power. Speaking at the National Defence Institute in the presence of senior officers of the Indonesian armed forces (TNI), she said: “The benchmark of the success of a leader is no longer measured by how great the power he has gathered but how his power can benefit the people.

“The base of his legitimacy is … on the people’s acceptance and on the performance in implementing what has been mandated.”

She also warned that Indonesia could disintegrate and become the “sick man of Asia” if it did not resolve its problems. At no point in her speech did she mention Mr Abdurrahman by name.

But sources in her Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) said her comments reflected the “increasing resentment” against Mr Abdurrahman for threatening to use muscle politics to stay in power.

Said a senior party cadre: “The fact that Ibu Mega is prepared now to air her views publicly shows her resolve that Gus Dur must go. She is fed up with him.”

The hardening of her stance has lent even greater weight to legislators planning to topple him. Parliamentary Speaker Akbar Tandjung said that most parliamentary factions would call for impeachment proceedings when they met next week.

He told The Straits Times that most legislators preferred the “cleaner option” of the President resigning or giving his No 2 full executive powers.

“If that does not happen soon, then we have no other choice,” he said.

Sources said the President’s team of advisers met him to recommend moves to resolve the conflict.

They still prefer a political compromise and some form of power sharing – but this is impossible now given MsMegawati’s tougher position.

That leaves the President the option of declaring a state of emergency and disbanding Parliament, which he has vowed to do if there is no other way of resolving the impasse.

But top army generals told The Straits Times that the TNI would not allow this to happen.

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