Subject: JP: Gusmao to Meet Wiranto Despite Horta's Caution

Also: Golkar, PKB Sign Coalition Accord

The Jakarta Post

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Gusmao to Meet Wiranto Despite Horta's Caution

The Jakarta Post Jakarta

Despite strong opposition from a senior minister, East Timor President Xanana Gusmao is being firm in his decision to go ahead with a scheduled Saturday meeting in Bali with presidential aspirant Gen. (ret) Wiranto, who has been indicted by a United Nations-backed East Timorese court for crimes against humanity in the former Indonesian territory.

Foreign minister Ramos Horta said he had told Gusmao it was not wise to meet Wiranto before Indonesia's direct presidential election on July 5, because it could send the wrong message to both countries.

"I would say it is not appropriate. If Wiranto really wants to speak to Xanana, they should wait until after the election. Election time is always a very sensitive period, it can send the wrong messages to one side and another," Horta told The Jakarta Post from his Dili office on Friday.

When asked about Gusmao's response to his advice, Horta said, "My president decided that he wishes to meet Wiranto. He probably will go ahead on the weekend and I respect (his decision)."

Wiranto, nominated by the Golkar Party, was Indonesian Military (TNI) commander and defense minister during the 1999 East Timorese independence referendum, which was followed by massacres in the tiny territory.

An East Timorese court issued on May 10 a warrant for Wiranto's arrest for alleged crimes against humanity during the post-referendum violence.

Gusmao, however, has repeatedly pointed out that it would be more beneficial for both countries if they moved forward to promote bilateral relations rather than focusing on past bitterness.

While stressing that "I do not wish to make any judgment on Wiranto", Horta said, "East Timorese people and the families of victims would forgive Wiranto if he acknowledged his responsibility in the Dili incident".

"... It will also help East Timor leaders to resolve issues of justice with the United Nations," said the 1996 Nobel Peace co-laureate.

He said a public apology would help to improve Wiranto's image and boost his credibility in the international community.

The head of Wiranto's media team, Despen Ompusunggu, was quoted by the Agence France-Presse as saying on Friday that the meeting's agenda included discussing the charges against Wiranto.

The meeting comes just two weeks after President Megawati Soekarnoputri held bilateral talks with Gusmao in Bali.

The two presidents discussed issues including human rights and the case against Wiranto. Following the meeting, Gusmao said his government could not annul the arrest warrant for Wiranto.

However, he added, it would also do nothing to realize it.

When asked why he did not oppose Gusmao's meeting with Megawati, Horta replied that the East Timor president met with Megawati in her capacity "as the President of the Republic of Indonesia".

He added, "if the Indonesian people elect Wiranto as the president of the Republic of Indonesia, the government of Timor Leste (East Timor) will respect their choice".


The Jakarta Post Saturday, May 29, 2004

Golkar, PKB Sign Coalition Accord

Moch. N. Kurniawan and Tiarma Siboro, Jakarta

The Golkar Party and the National Awakening Party (PKB) signed a coalition agreement on Friday, but doubts remain if the alliance would boost their candidates' chance of winning the July 5 presidential election.

The accord was signed by the chairmen of the two parties -- Akbar Tandjung of the Golkar Party and Alwi Shihab of PKB.

"This coalition will unite visions, missions, and programs in the executive and the legislative branches and state institutions at the national level," said the declaration, read out by actress Nurul Arifin, who ran as a Golkar candidate in the April 5 legislative election, but did not gain a seat.

"We will unite actions to help Golkar's presidential and vice presidential pairing Wiranto and Solahuddin Wahid, who are fully supported by PKB, win the presidential election," the declaration said.

The PKB decided to forge an alliance with Golkar after the General Elections Commission (KPU) disqualified Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid from the country's first direct presidential election on July 5.

Golkar, which won 24 million votes in the April 5 legislative election, has named rights campaigner Solahuddin Wahid as the vice presidential candidate of Wiranto, who had been accused of gross human rights violations in East Timor in 1999. PKB garnered 12 million votes in the same election.

Akbar said he was happy with the written agreement supporting the Wiranto-Solahuddin pairing and that Gus Dur had also given his written support.

Alwi, meanwhile, expressed the hope that the coalition would result in long-lasting and solid cooperation.

However, just as Akbar and Alwi signed the accord, the provincial chairman of PKB in Medan, North Sumatra said that the coalition was not in line with the agreement reached in a national working meeting.

Antara reported from Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) on Friday that all regional and branch leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and leaders of 60 Islamic boarding schools (pesantren) in the province had agreed to support the pairing of Megawati Soekarnoputri and Hasyim Muzadi in the upcoming election.

Provincial NU chairman Syaiful Muslim said the agreement was made during a meeting that ended on Thursday evening.

"The agreement to support the Megawati-Hasyim pairing is the individual decision of each NU leader, but the leaders of the 60 pesantren represent their institutions," Syaiful said.

On Wednesday, 120 NU ulemas from Java and Sumatra also pledged their support for Megawati and Hasyim.

Reports said earlier that virtually all NU leaders in East Java, the stronghold of the country's largest Muslim country, had also thrown their support behind the pair.

Almost 80 percent of the 12 million votes that PKB, which was set up by NU leaders ahead of the 1999 general election, garnered in the legislative election came from East Java.

Meanwhile, young PKB politician Bara Hasibuan tendered his resignation on Friday due to disappointment over the party's decision to support Wiranto.

"I consider the current election a critical time for this country to nominate credible leadership, otherwise we will never move forward.

"I do understand that the PKB has been in a difficult situation after the KPU disqualified its main candidate, but I don't think it should have to support Golkar's candidates," Bara told The Jakarta Post

He also said that many PKB members were of the same opinion, but did not divulge any names.

PKB had earlier nominated Gus Dur and Marwah Daud Ibrahim as their candidates, but KPU disqualified Gus Dur due to his poor eyesight. The party has not appointed a replacement, while Gus Dur had vowed to stay out of the system.

"I wish that the PKB would support any other figure but Wiranto... his past is such heavy baggage for the country," said Bara, referring to allegations of rights abuses against the retired four-star Army general.

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