Gus Dur may be out sooner

As president plans another overseas trip, legislators move to bring forward his impeachment hearing by a month.

Indonesian legislators yesterday looked set to bring forward by a month a parliamentary session that could topple President Abdurrahman Wahid.

Sources said that five factions in the House of Representatives (DPR), including the two largest – the Indonesian Democratic Party – Struggle (PDI-P) and Golkar – were considering a July impeachment hearing because the 60-year-old leader was “increasingly becoming a liability”.

“The conditions in my country are getting worse and Gus Dur is doing nothing to resolve them,” Parliamentary Speaker Akbar Tandjung told The Straits Times.

This move to bring forward the impeachment hearing takes place against a backdrop of fresh unrest in Indonesia following plans for a fuel price hike and a decree scrapping long-service payments.

Protesters and police clashed in three East Java towns, but the demonstrations failed to deter the president from planning another overseas trip later this month.

PDI-P’s Melona Soewondo said that his decision to leave for Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines reflected bad judgment yet again.

He said: “The longer he stays in power, the more dangerous he gets. We are no longer interested in all this talk of a compromise. We want him out fast.”

The Straits Times understands that the attempt to speed up his downfall is being spearheaded by Golkar and PDI-P hardliners, sparked more perhaps by concerns that the palace was initiating corruption probes against top party members.

On the blacklist are Golkar chairman Akbar, former economic czar Ginandjar Kartasasmita and PDI-P member Arifin Panigoro.

The palace had hoped that by targeting members of the former ruling party in particular, they would buckle and split the opposition against the president. But it had the reverse affect.

Legislators said that the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), which scheduled the hearing for Aug 1 originally, would have the final say on the new date.

That appears a foregone conclusion, given that MPR chairman Amien Rais is the most vocal critic of the president and has been plotting his downfall for over a year.

Mr Akbar said that legislators would be able to convene a session within a week and had already drafted five decrees needed for the hearing.

This included rejecting the president’s account of his rule and appointing Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri as Indonesia’s new leader.

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