No word on Gus Dur’s emergency rule threat
2 AM LATEST
Midnight deadline over but situation in Jakarta remains uncertain as President’s rift with Megawati grows.
President Abdurrahman Wahid’s threat to declare emergency rule at midnight if legislators did not back off from impeachment plans passed without any declaration from the palace.
But a rift with Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri remained wider then ever after she reportedly rejected proposals at a Cabinet meeting which would have given her executive powers to run the country.
Her key aides said she would not accept the proposals given his ultimatum to her that he would declare emergency rule if she did not get Parliament to back off from calling a special session of the consultative assembly (MPR) and proceeding with plans for his impeachment.
But as the midnight deadline came and went, there was no declaration from any presidential palace official, the Antara national news agency or any of the Indonesian media.
His critics maintain, however, that he could still carry out his threat in the next few days before Parliament convenes on Wednesdayto make what is an almost certain call for impeachment proceedings against him.
Hopes for a political compromise with Ms Megawati – which could have staved off impeachment – appeared to have faded earlier in the day.
Chief security minister Bambang Yudhoyono said the President made the power-sharing offer, as well as proposed a Cabinet reshuffle and a political moratorium, at yesterday’s crisis Cabinet meeting.
But the substance of the plan – giving day-to-day management of the government to Ms Megawati, did not appear to appease her.
She left after just 20 minutes, flummoxed by the President’s state of emergency threat. Mr Abdurrahman himself left minutes later.
Ministers, stunned by their 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 member of Ms Megawati’s 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 after weeks of insisting that he would not relinquish authority – a point he reiterated yesterday after prayers at a central Jakarta mosque.
But a key issue remains whether he will still push ahead with emergency rule.
The military believes Mr Abdurrahman has been engaging in a dangerous game of brinkmanship and has made it clear that it will “crush” any attempt to impose emergency rule.
Analysts said any such move would speed up his own downfall as it could prompt the MPR to hold an emergency session and set the stage for his ouster.