Megawati rejects deal tied to Gus Dur rescue

President offers power-sharing to his deputy on condition she persuades Parliament to drop impeachment.

Hopes for a political compromise between President Abdurrahman Wahid and his deputy appear to have faded after Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri reportedly rejected a proposal which would have given her executive powers to run the country.

Key aides to the Vice-President said she would not support the latest initiative – outlined at a Cabinet meeting yesterday – given the ultimatum which accompanied the offer.

Mr Abdurrahman had apparently said during the meeting that he would declare emergency rule if Ms Megawati did not get Parliament to back off from calling a special session of the consultative assembly and proceeding with plans for his impeachment.

Chief security minister Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters the President made the power-sharing offer, as well as proposed a Cabinet reshuffle and a political moratorium, during yesterday’s crisis meeting.

The substance of the plan, which would see day-to-day management of the government come under the Vice-President, did not appear to appease the taciturn Ms Megawati.

She left after just 20 minutes, flummoxed by the President’s threat that he would declare a state of emergency by midnight yesterday if she failed to make legislators back down on impeachment.

Mr Abdurrahman himself left minutes later.

Ministers, stunned by their sudden departure, continued for a while before ending the meeting, their power-sharing proposals in tatters as they stared at a possible constitutional crisis.

Said a senior member of Ms Megawati’s PDI-P party: “Ibu Mega went into this meeting with the view that it was not going to achieve anything.

“She was right. Gus Dur offered her a compromise at gunpoint. So she decided to walk out. For her it means there is no other way but to impeach the President.”

The President’s offer to give her more powers was an about-turn and came after weeks of his insisting that he would not relinquish his authority.

Even before yesterday’s meeting, he said after prayers at a central Jakarta mosque that “I have already compromised as much as I am able to do”.

The key issue now is whether he will push ahead with his threats to impose emergency rule.

The military, watching and anticipating every move being made by the civilian elite, said Mr Abdurrahman was engaging in a dangerous game of brinkmanship to force Ms Megawati and others to compromise.

With just days to go before Parliament convenes on Wednesdaynote1 , army sources believe his threat is imminent as he was running short of other options.

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