Subject: Gen Try warns Indonesians: Stop criticising military, or else

Straits Times Feb 10 2000

Gen Try warns Indonesians: Stop criticising military, or else

There won't be a coup, says former VP, but the military will react forcefully if there's no let-up in hostility

JAKARTA -- Former Indonesian vice-president and armed forces (TNI) chief General Try Sutrisno warned yesterday that the military would react strongly if there was no let-up in public criticism against it -- but said there would be no coup.

"If these groundless reports do not cease, we will react with equal force but, one thing you can be sure of, that reaction will not be in the form of a coup," he told journalists at a press conference without elaborating further.

His comments came as Parliamentary speaker Akbar Tandjung told President Abdurrahman Wahid to stop making controversial remarks and weigh the implications of such statements carefully.

He said the House intended to convey a message to the Indonesian leader at an upcoming meeting that he should "act as President".

The statements by Gen Try -- now president of Pepabri, the association of retired senior military officers -- and Mr Akbar, came amid a standoff between Mr Abdurrahman and chief security minister Gen Wiranto, who has refused to resign after being held "morally responsible" for the East Timor violence by a domestic rights group.

Gen Wiranto has vehemently defended his role in East Timor, saying that he did his best to ensure that last year's UN-organised vote -- when he was TNI chief -- went ahead freely and fairly.

He said he helped broker peace between pro- and anti-independence factions.

His refusal to resign has prompted fears in Jakarta of a possible coup.

In a statement issued separately after Gen Try's comments, Pepabri said the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) -- which produced the report criticising Gen Wiranto -- "should respect the country's laws and human rights ethics".

The statement was issued after a closed-door meeting between Pepabri and current TNI chief Admiral Widodo Adisucipto on Tuesday.

The association also said the shame of losing East Timor "should never be repeated in any other province".

Mr Akbar, in an interview with the private SCTV television network, said: "At the next consultative meeting...we will ask him to be more cautious in making statements, especially controversial ones, and carefully weigh the implications of such statements."

Mr Abdurrahman's brother, Mr Salehudin Wahid, however, denied accusations that the leader has been making haphazard statements that threaten the country's stability and economic recovery.

"I think it is impossible for the President to express inconsistent statements because I know that whatever he says, there is an underlying meaning which we do not understand," the Indonesian Observer yesterday quoted him as saying.

He conceded that a number of statements made by his brother have resulted in polemics and he called on Mr Abdurrahman to kick the habit so the government would satisfy all parties. -- AFP, Reuters

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