Wahid sets deadline for compromise


JAKARTA, AFP

Isolated Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid again threatened to dissolve parliament and declare a state of emergency after his major rivals snubbed compromise talks Monday.

Wahid set a compromise deadline of July 20 following the humiliating no-show of his deputy, Megawati Sukarnoputri, and leaders of other major parties.

The leader of his own National Awakening Party (PKB), Matori Abdul Djalil, was the only politician to attend the talks at the summer presidential palace on the outskirts of Jakarta.

“Two possibilities are open to us,” Wahid said in a televised speech following the boycott.

“First, to continue efforts at reconciliation, which we still have until (July) 20 to achieve.

“If that doesn’t happen, the government will declare the country in a state of danger, the DPR and MPR (lower and upper houses of parliament) will be dissolved, and elections will be held within one year.”

A state of danger is conditional for the declaration of a state of emergency under Indonesian law.

Wahid has repeatedly threatened to declare a state of emergency to counter moves by his political foes.

MPR chairman Amien Rais responded to Wahid’s latest threat by warning that impeachment hearings could be brought forward from the scheduled starting date of August 1.

“Wahid’s planned move is against the constitution and could disturb economic and social stability,” Rais told reporters.

Monday’s planned talks had been seen as a last ditch attempt by Wahid to strike a deal with the parties ahead of the impeachment hearing against him.

Parliament called for the impeachment hearing based on Wahid’s implication in two financial scandals and his alleged incompetence.

Sukarnoputri who heads the nation’s biggest party, the Indonesian Democracy Party for Struggle (PDIP), absence from the compromise talks was crucial.

When it became clear Megawati would not attend, the leaders of the next two largest parties, Golkar and the United Development Party (PPP), followed suit.

Bambang Kesowo, who is Megawati’s secretary, told journalists, that the vice president had a previously scheduled economics meeting to chair.

Golkar chairman Akbar Tanjung canceled his attendance 45 minutes before the meeting because no other party leaders were going, Golkar executive Syamsul Muarfi said.

“Mr. Akbar told the president: ‘There’s no point in me attending the meeting if no-one else is present,'” Muarif told AFP.

PPP secretary general Ali Marwan Hanan said party chairman Hamzah Haz decided against attending because Megawati had refused.

Smaller Muslim parties including the Crescent Star Party (PBB) and National Mandate Party (PAN) last week ruled out attending.

Wahid accused the parties of being against a “peaceful solution” to his stand-off with parliament.

“The most important thing for us to think about is how to find a peaceful settlement, instead of what we are facing, which is the violation of the constitution (through impeachment,)” he told Monday’s press conference.

“We are trying to reach a peaceful solution with the DPR but the DPR and the parties do not want a peaceful solution.”

Wahid became the country’s first freely-elected president in October 1999 after he beat Megawati in the election held by the national assembly.

At the special MPR session slated for next month Wahid will be asked to deliver an accountability speech, which if rejected would amount to his impeachment.