Indonesia’s Wahid cool about plots to dump him

JAKARTA, Indonesia, AP

Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid said he was unconcerned about a meeting of leading politicians — an event the local media has dubbed an effort to dump him, an aide was quoted Saturday as saying.

“His response is the same as when students made similar demands (that Wahid resign). The president is leaving it up to the legal and constitutional process,” state news agency Antara quoted presidential spokesman Adhi Massardi as saying in Saudi Arabia.

Wahid is on the last leg of a 15-day tour to North Africa and the Middle East. He will perform an Islamic pilgrimage on Sunday in Islam’s holiest city of Mecca despite repeated calls for him to return home to resolve the bloody ethnic riots in Indonesia’s half of Borneo island.

Critics have called him callous for staying abroad after more than 450 Madurese settlers were killed by Dayak natives since Feb. 18.

The embattled president is also under pressure to resign after the parliament censured him in early February for alleged involvement in two multimillion dollar scandals.

Leaders from six political parties met at a Jakarta mosque for prayers on Friday and reportedly discussed Wahid’s ouster.

Those attending the meeting included Taufik Kiemas, the husband of Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Kiemas, a member of parliament, is an influential politician in his own right. His presence at the meeting stirred speculation that Megawati might support Wahid’s ouster.

The Jakarta Post on Saturday quoted Wahid’s staunchest critic, Amien Rais, as saying that Indonesians “should mentally prepare themselves to face another change of leadership.” Rais heads Indonesia’s upper house of parliament which elects the president and the vice president.

However, Rais stopped short of announcing any concrete deals to oust Wahid. He said there was an “unspoken conclusion” that if a change of leadership was to take place it should be done in a prudent and constitutional manner.