INFID, April 22, 2004
INFID's Short News Overview No. V/11: April 16 - 22, 2004
Wiranto for President
Delegates at Golkar's Jakarta convention hailed ex-general Wiranto as a military hero
who supported Indonesia's democratic transition in 1998 and granted him the party's
ticket for presidential candidate. Wiranto soundly trounced Golkar's chairman and
parliamentary speaker Akbar Tandjung by 315 votes to 227 in a second round of
voting at the party candidate ballot on April 20.
Wiranto was linked to human rights abuses in East Timor and fired in 2000 by former
president Abdurrahman Wahid. He was indicted last year before the Dili Special
Panel, a U.N.-funded rights tribunal for allegedly failing to stop Indonesian soldiers and
their proxy militias from killing nearly 1,500 people during a U.N.-sponsored
independence referendum in 1999.
The Indonesia director of the International Crisis Group, Sidney Jones, said Wiranto's
success made the contest for president "extremely interesting". She said the East
Timor allegations would not hurt him domestically since it is not an issue for most of
the Indonesian public.
Professor Jeffery Winters from Chicago's Northwestern University agreed East Timor
allegations would have "no effect at all" on Wiranto's campaign.
East Timor's foreign minister Dr Ramos-Horta said he doubted that General Wiranto
would win the presidential election. But if he did, he said it it would put East Timor,
Australia, the European Union countries and the United States in an awkward
situation. Other foreign government were also suprised with Wiranto's victory, but
refused to criticise his candidacy. Experts and foreign government officials said any
outside opposition, especially from the US, would likely be translated into domestic
support for Wiranto, given the strong anti-U.S. sentiments that abound in Indonesia
Rights activists are so far the only quarter that expressed dismay at Wiranto's
nomination. "Wiranto must stand trial, not stand for office," said the East Timor Action
Network, a U.S.-based group seeking justice for the 1999 atrocities.
TAPOL, an UK-based human rights group said the nomination has dealt a severe blow
to Indonesia's transition from dictatorship to democracy.
"It is outrageous that a person indicted on such serious charges can aspire to high
political office in this way. This is a major setback to efforts to end impunity, improve
respect for human rights, and establish the rule of law, all key elements in building a
meaningful democracy in Indonesia", says TAPOL spokesperson, Paul Barber.
Wiranto's nomination is seen largely positive for economy. Many economists shared
the view that Wiranto, like Megawati and Yudhoyono, is market friendly as he favors
free markets and foreign investment.
Umar Juworo, an economist with the Centre for Information and Development Studies
(CIDES), said Yudhoyono has won the heart of investors recently, but noted that it
may have been short-term investors in the financial market who were cheering him. To
attract foreign direct investment, which is more longer-term oriented in nature, Wiranto
could be a better bet, Juworo said. Wiranto is a better prospect because "Yudhoyono
is untested", Juworo said.
Sources: TA 22/04, AP 21/04, TPR 21/04, ES 21/04, DPA 21/04
- Spokesman of the Brawijaya regional military command Lt. Col. Chrisetyono, which
covers East Java province, said the command will send its 3rd Cavalry Battalion and
521st Infantry Battalion to Aceh. The cavalry battalion will be sent in the middle of
May, while the infantry battalion will be sent later, he said. The cavalry battalion will
replace a cavalry battalion from Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra province,
while the infantry battalion will replace another battalion from Blitar district in East
Java, which has been in Aceh for the past year.
- Hari Sabarno, acting minister for security and political affairs, said the government
would soon re-evaluate whether it is necessary to maintain martial law in the war-torn
province of Aceh. He said the evaluation would be conducted within the next one to
two weeks to determine whether martial law was still necessary in the rebellious
- The martial law administrator, Major General Endang Suwarya, told a Jakarta radio
station that GAM's strength has been reduced to about 40 percent of what it was.
Rebel operations commander in East Aceh, Ishak Daud, denied there had been a
severe drop in GAM's numbers. Suwarya also said the military had rescued 124
people held hostage by Free Aceh Movement (GAM) guerrillas since last May's start
of a major military offensive to crush the rebels, but 260 civilians were still detained
- The International Federation of Journalists reiterated its demand for the release of
RCTI television cameraman, Fery Santoro, who has spent almost 10 months as a
hostage of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Fery was abducted while on assignment
in the Langsa area by GAM along with colleague Sory Ersa Siregar on June 29 last
year, their driver and two wives of Air Force officers. The driver escaped late last year,
while the Indonesian Military (TNI) said Ersa was killed on Dec. 29 by TNI bullets in a
gunfight with GAM. The women were released in February.
- Serambi daily reported that separatist rebels have ambushed and killed three
Indonesian soldiers in Aceh.
- Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) head Taufieqqurrahman Ruki said the
national anticorruption body was seeking to question Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam
Governor Abdullah Puteh for his alleged role in graft cases as local authorities have
been wholly unable to summon him. Local sociologist Ahmad Humam Hamid said
that corruption in Aceh was completely out of control and was a bigger problem than
the armed separatist rebels. "During the 2002-2004 period, some Rp 20 trillion
(US$2.3 billion) has been channeled to Aceh, but the use of the funds is not clear."
- Army spokesman Lt. Col. Asep Sapari said two suspected rebels were shot and
killed in two separate clashes in the south and east ofAceh. Six other suspected
rebels were either captured or surrendered, he said. Rebels could not be reached for
Sources: JP 19/04 21/04, DPA 19/04, AFP 19/04 20/04, AP 22/04
Maluku Sovereignty Front ( FKM) secretary general Moses Tuwanakotta said his
group would go ahead with the flag-raising ceremony on April 25, which he said was
the FKM's 54th anniversary day and defy a government ban on such activities.
Moses said he had remained in contact with FKM leader Alex Manuputty who fled to
the United States after he was convicted for treason by an Indonesian court last year.
Pattimura Military commander Brig. Gen. Ginting Munthe said he had been ordered to
deal sternly with any separatist activities on the day.
Source: JP 22/04
AFP Agence France-Presse
AP Associated Press
DPA Deutsche-Press Agenteur
ES ETAN Statement
JP The Jakarta Post
TA The Age
TPR TAPOL Press Release