- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2001

JAKARTA, Indonesia — In her first state of the nation speech, Indonesia's new president apologized yesterday for atrocities in rebellious provinces and urged the military to reform itself.
On the eve of the country's 56th anniversary of independence, President Megawati Sukarnoputri also asked international creditors for "room to breathe" on reforms to fix the ailing economy.
And to fight corruption, she ordered senior officials to disclose their wealth to state auditors and asked her relatives to set an example.
"I have gathered all my close relatives and have asked them to promise not to allow any opportunity for corruption, collusion and nepotism," she said in a televised address to parliament.
The national assembly voted July 23 to impeach President Abdurrahman Wahid for incompetence, and replace him with his deputy, Mrs. Megawati, the daughter of Indonesia's founding father, Sukarno.
Hard-line army generals supported her rise to power. But in an implied criticism of the army, Mrs. Megawati apologized for atrocities in Aceh and Irian Jaya provinces, where troops are battling separatists, and in East Timor, which seceded in 1999 after a quarter-century of military repression.
"We need to pay more attention to human rights," she said.
Mrs. Megawati for the first time publicly acknowledged the territory's right to self-determination.
The United States has expressed its support of Mrs. Megawati, and she has accepted an invitation to meet with President Bush in Washington on Sept. 19.
"We openly respect our brothers' choice to live in their own state," she said.
But she ruled out independence for Aceh and Irian Jaya, at opposite ends of the sprawling Southeast Asian archipelago, urging separatist rebels there to give up their struggle and "help build a new Indonesia."
In the latest violence in Aceh, rebels fatally shot two soldiers and a policeman in a gunbattle Wednesday, officials said.
Although she was a member of Mr. Wahid's administration since its inception in October 1999, Mrs. Megawati kept a low profile and never formed any specific policies to deal with Indonesia's deepest economic and social crisis in decades.
Last week she announced her first ministerial lineup. Analysts, financial markets and foreign governments welcomed the 33-member Cabinet, which is dominated by technocrats and includes representatives of all major political parties.
But human rights groups criticized it for including a number of army generals and ministers linked to the 32-year dictatorship of former President Suharto, who ousted Sukarno. Like many Indonesians, both presidents used only one name.
In her speech, Mrs. Megawati, Indonesia's fifth president since it gained independence from Dutch colonial rule, highlighted the importance of reaching an agreement with the country's international donors.
"We have to work hard to fulfill commitments to creditors," she said.
The International Monetary Fund suspended lending to Indonesia in December after the country fell behind on a number of economic reforms, including speeding up asset sales.<

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