Suharto’s guards to be disarmed


Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid said Sunday he has ordered the military, police and intelligence chiefs to disarm all private armed guards of former president Suharto.

“I have asked the head of the intelligence agency, and later (will ask) the Indonesian armed forces chief and the national police chief to ensure all security guards at former president Suharto’s home who are not members of the armed forces or the police are disarmed,” Wahid said.

Wahid, speaking in Medan, North Sumatra on Sunday, was quoted by the state Antara news agency as saying that firearm-carrying individuals could “pretend to defend themselves, pretend to defend the government, but basically undermine the government.”

As a former Indonesian head of state, Suharto has a right to security guards provided by the state. Suharto’s family also have their own security guards.

“There is no other way, to safeguard the unity of our state, willing or not willing, the government now has to act strongly,” Wahid told a local civic and government leaders in the North Sumatran capital.

He said that to that end, the government will call on all owners of illegal firearms to hand them over to the authorities within one week.

“Or else, we will seek them until we can get them all. This is the only way,” Wahid said.

He said the warning was also directed to Islamic leader Habib Ali Baagil to surrender his men’s firearms.

Wahid has named Baagil as one of the suspects in the recent violence to hit the country, including the bombing of the Jakarta stock exchange last week. He has ordered the police to arrest and question Baagil.

Baagil is the leader of the Front of the Defender of Islam, a militant Muslim group which has been behind violent attacks on “dens of sin” — cafes, bars, massage parlors, game arcades — in the capital.

FPI members, armed with knives, swords and machetes, earlier this year protested in front of the presidential palace against violence suffered by Muslims in Maluku.

Wahid also said members of the Indonesian army were hindering a police investigation into the bombing of the attorney general’s office in July.

“It is clear that the bomb was made by Pindad (the state weapons industry) and was channeled to the army … the national police chief has reported to me that there were certain members of the army who objected to the investigation,” he said.

He said he would order these members be questioned. He mentioned no names.

The bomb at the attorney general’s office blew up shortly after Suharto’s son, Hutomo Mandala Putra, left the premises after being questioned by prosecutors for hours over suspected corruption.