Wahid planning to replace military chiefs


JAKARTA, AFP

Indonesian President Abdurrhaman Wahid is planning to replace the heads of the army, the navy and the airforce before a special session of the legislature in August that may impeach him, a politician from his party said Thursday.

“In the near future, before the special session, there will be a change in the heads of the forces by the president,” deputy secretary of Wahid’s National Awakening Party (PKB), Chotibul Umam Wiranu was quoted by the state Antara news agency as saying.

Wiranu was referring to the special session of the upper house of parliament (MPR) which will have the power to impeach the president and will be held starting August 1.

Wiranu said the replacement of the three chiefs in the armed forces (TNI) had been planned by Wahid for about one month.

TNI spokesman Vice Air Marshal Graito Usodo said the TNI had “no plan for a change of any of the three chief of staffs.”

“The normal procedure for a chief of staff candidate is by proposing our candidates to the president and he will select one of them … but we have not offered any candidates to president Wahid,” Usodo told AFP.

Rumors of the replacement of the influential army chief of staff, General Endriartono Sudarto, who has publicly opposed Wahid’s threat to impose a state of emergency on the country, sparked a strong reaction from within the military and from legislators last month.

The emergency status, which would enable Wahid to disband parliament before it can move to impeach him, has also been opposed by Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Wiranu was also quoted by the Satunet Web site as saying that Wahid did not want to have security enforcers who opposed his political decisions.

The replacements, he said, would certainly be composed of people which would support the president’s political decisions.