Gus Dur on his own over civil emergency, says TNI

The military says it will not support a declaration of a state of emergency or the dissolution of parliament.

President Abdurrahman Wahid’s plans for full emergency rule in Indonesia continued to flounder without any crucial backing from the influential armed forces (TNI).

Thrust into the political fray again after being in the doldrums for the past two years – ironically by Mr Abdurrahman, who pledged to send them back to the barracks – the generals refused to budge despite repeated threats by the palace over the past week to sack the top brass.

Sources said that after crisis talks at the TNI headquarters over the weekend, the military decided that it would not support a presidential decree to disband parliament or declare a state of emergency.

“Gus Dur is entitled to do what he wants because he is President,” said a two-star army general who attended the meetings. “But we are not going to do his bidding for him. We will just stand aside and watch him dig his own grave.” Chief Security Minister General Bambang Yudhoyono said that he and his team of six ministers, who recommended power sharing to the President following the second censure motion last month, were against any declaration of an emergency or the dissolution of parliament.

“We do not agree and are not in a position to support a decree dissolving the parliament,” he said.

The head of the military’s parliamentary faction, Lt-General Budi Harsono, has also warned that the military will “oppose both the declaration of a state of emergency and House dissolution”.

Given such hostile sentiments to the plan, the palace tried to secure the support of military loyalists such as Lt-General Agus Wirahadikusumah and Major-General Kivlen Zein.

But it had little effect given their tenuous power base in the TNI.

In fact, both generals have come under increasing pressure from the army to stay away from any political manoeuvring. Without a countervailing source of support from within the TNI ranks, the President was pushed into a corner in the face-off with the military.

Government sources told The Straits Times that right until Sunday, he wanted to push for emergency rule. But both he and his supporters felt handicapped because they did not have the generals on their side.

The TNI appears to have closed ranks on this matter.

Analysts said the factional differences that emerged between military chief Admiral Widodo Adisucipto and army commander General Endriartono Sutarto, most pronounced last month in the run-up to the second censure, appear to have dissipated following a meeting of the top brass on Saturday to close ranks.

Sources said that they re-visited several contingency plans if the President were to push ahead with a state of emergency. Noted a three-star army general: “If it has national security implications, then we will have to intervene… But we will take the cue from the civilian politicians.”

“It is all up to Gus Dur. If he does not want to leave quietly, there will be chaos.”


‘Gus Dur is entitled to do what he wants because he is President. But we … will just stand aside and watch him dig his own grave.’

– A two-star army general speaking in Jakarta yesterday as the President, surrounded by aides and ministers at the presidential palace, ordered enforcement of law and order in the country

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