Gus Dur told : No emergency rule

We will speed up the impeachment process if you impose state of emergency, legislators pledge.

Indonesian legislators warned President Abdurrahman Wahid yesterday they would speed up his removal – by bringing forward a scheduled Aug 1 impeachment session of the national assembly (MPR) – if he tries to impose emergency rule.

The Indonesian leader, who has kept everyone guessing on whether he would implement a radical strategy to dissolve Parliament, refused to take questions on his plans when asked at the end of the G-15 summit here.

An irritated Mr Abdurrahman told reporters: “We don’t like the questions to be dominated by domestic affairs. For that, there will be another forum that we will prepare for you.”

After the G-15 press conference, sources said he returned to the palace for meetings with his advisers to come up with some kind of game plan to save his presidency.

These developments came on a day of relative calm across Indonesia, compared to the events of Wednesday when angry supporters of Mr Abdurrahman ran riot in East Java and tried to storm Parliament in Jakarta.

Aides from the Nadhlatul Ulama organisation have been advising the President that if compromise and quiet diplomacy fail, he has one final card to play: emergency rule.

Indeed, it was that reality which prompted legislators to sound a warning, as many believe that Mr Abdurrahman has clearly run out of options.

Buoyed by the success of the overwhelming vote in Parliament for a special MPR session, the lawmakers went on the offensive again yesterday, concerned that emergency rule might provoke even more violence across Indonesia.

“If the political situation escalates further and becomes critical, then the special session can be held immediately,” Parliamentary Speaker Akbar Tandjung told reporters.

“If there is a decree to dissolve the Parliament, it is clearly against the Constitution.”

The Straits Times understands that the real push for an earlier MPR session was coming from the Central Axis coalition of Muslim parties led by MPR Speaker Amien Rais, who had wanted to impeach Mr Abdurrahman by July.

He announced yesterday, after a meeting with the MPR leadership and parliamentary faction chiefs, that a special session would officially convene on Aug 1.

But he, too, warned that it could be held earlier if conditions warranted.

His aides said there was grave concern that Mr Abdurrahman could use the two months before August to salvage a political “deal at gunpoint”.

“Why should we give Gus Dur so much time to play with fire?” a source quoted Dr Amien as saying. “An emergency declaration is the best way to speed up his downfall. There won’t be anyone that will think twice about it.”

Opposition to the President imposing emergency rule also continued to come from the armed forces (TNI) and several cabinet ministers, who have threatened to resign if he did so.

Chief Security Minister Bambang Yudhoyono once again warned of the security implications.

“Issuing a decree in a situation like this is not appropriate and we hope this decision will not be taken,” he said after a meeting with the armed forces’ top brass late last night.

Added TNI spokesman Graito Usodo: “The decree would make Indonesia’s problems worse. We have told the President this and we have asked him not to declare it.”

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