- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2001

Indonesia's ousted President Abdurrahman Wahid said yesterday in Baltimore, where he was receiving medical treatment, that the United States had tilted toward his rival, Megawati Sukarnoputri, who took power last week.
Among the indications that the United States was backing Mrs. Megawati were intelligence reports that six U.S. submarines were near his country on the day parliament ousted him, Mr. Wahid said in an interview.
Mr. Wahid, an ailing Muslim cleric who was examined at Johns Hopkins Hospital, said he was concerned that Mrs. Megawati was too close to the military, long associated with human rights abuse and repression.
"The U.S. must not interfere in our internal affairs — now it looks like they take the side of Megawati," Mr. Wahid said.
"The intelligence report about the six U.S. submarines needs corroboration," he said.
"I would not risk concluding that the U.S. was involved in my ouster," he said. "Only later can that be determined."
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice yesterday denied that the United States had taken sides during Indonesia's change of presidents.
"We did follow the Indonesian peoples' process, and we did not tilt one way or the other until it was resolved," Miss Rice said in an interview.
"Once resolved, the United States has to deal with the Indonesian government that is in place," she said.
Mr. Wahid also voiced concern that Indonesia may drift toward using the military in trouble spots, which could lead to a recurrence of human rights abuses.
He said he did not consider Mrs. Megawati, the daughter of Indonesia's first post-independence leader, Sukarno, a legitimate president because she was installed without constitutional authority.
Mr. Wahid last month tried to block his ouster by declaring a state of emergency and ordering the army to close Parliament. But the army did not heed his instructions, and lawmakers voted him out of office July 23.
Mr. Wahid refused to vacate the presidential residence until three days later, when he flew to Baltimore for overdue medical tests related to two previous strokes.
With a clean bill of health, Mr. Wahid was to leave Baltimore for home yesterday, where he planned to fight for human rights and nurse the political wounds from his ouster by Mrs. Megawati.
"She was like a sister," he said, "but the constitution is more important."
"The tragedy is that she had to [take power]. It was not her idea."
Mr. Wahid had struggled to rein in Indonesia's powerful military, which had largely run the country for three decades under President Suharto, who stepped down amid popular protests and an economic crisis in 1998.
Mr. Wahid said the military was now behind Mrs. Megawati, along with other politicians hoping to benefit from her rule.
The United States is considering restoring military-to-military training and other ties with Indonesia. The cooperation was suspended when Indonesian troops allowed a bloody rampage on East Timor after it voted for independence in 1999.
Mr. Wahid said he had no advice for Mrs. Megawati.
"I hope she will lead the country [well]," he said. "Everything [for me] is finished. I cannot deal with political opportunists."
The nearly blind Muslim cleric was highly popular when he became the first democratically elected leader of the world's fourth most populous nation in 1999.
But he was ousted after he failed to stop communal violence and improve the economy.
"After 32 years of mismanagement [under Suharto], you cannot hope to be corrected in a short time," he said. "I need at least five years."
During his brief rule, communal violence, largely between Christian and Muslim groups, left thousands dead in the Moluccas. And about 1,000 people have died this year alone in Islamic separatist fighting in the oil-rich western region of Aceh. A sometimes-violent separatist movement also has erupted in Irian Jaya on the Western half of the island shared with Papua New Guinea.
Speaking of his great interest in spiritual solutions to man's problems, Mr. Wahid called for restraint in solving the separatist violence.
"The Aceh problem can only be tackled by peaceful negotiation," he said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide