Subject: Interview - Indonesia's Wiranto wants wealth spread more widely
also TAPOL: Retired generals seek return to power through elections
Interview - Indonesia's Wiranto wants wealth spread more widely
By Olivia Rondonuwu and Ed Davies
JAKARTA, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Retired Indonesian general Wiranto, a
controversial figure over rights abuses in East Timor who looks set to
run for president next year, said his country needs to spread its wealth
among the poor.
The former army chief, who has denied any wrongdoing in East Timor, was
indicted by a U.N. panel over the bloodshed surrounding Dili's 1999
independence vote, when about 1,000 East Timorese died.
That episode had been resolved and would not be a hindrance to his own
political ambitions or those of his party, Wiranto said in an interview
at the headquarters of his Hanura (Peoples' Conscience) party.
"That's just a part of left-over problems that has been resolved
government-to-government," he said, referring to a joint Indonesian and
East Timor truth commission which blamed Indonesia's military for rights
The commission had no prosecution powers.
"If that was a problem, then I couldn't have been an official
presidential candidate in 2004," he said.
Wiranto, 61, stood in the last elections as a presidential candidate for
the Golkar Party, the late president Suharto's political machine. He
finished behind President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and former president
Wiranto, who appears to be pushing a nationalist and populist agenda,
said Indonesia's economic policies should be more independent and the
poor were not benefiting enough from rises in world prices of natural
resources such as coal and palm oil.
"My view is at the moment there are a lot of riches not used for the
maximum benefit of the people," he said.
"And to be frank, Indonesia is now in a position of a loser in this
global competition," said Wiranto, who is known as an accomplished
singer and once made an album of love songs.
Asked about his solutions, he declined to map out specific policies,
saying he did not want to release them yet.
He said Indonesia should manage its resources more independently but did
Yudhoyono's administration has suffered some criticism for not
capitalising enough on rising commodity prices and has also struggled to
attract more foreign investment in areas such as mining.
Indonesia hosts global resource firms such as Freeport-McMoRan Copper &
Gold <FCX.N> but has seen little new investment in recent years.
After the 2004 vote, Wiranto broke ties with Golkar after a power
struggle and formed Hanura in late 2006.
Wiranto, who is Javanese like most of Indonesia's presidents, declined
to confirm whether he would stand for president again as many people
expect. He said his performance in the 2004 election showed he had a
core support base on which to rely. "I garnered more than 26 million
votes, or about 22 percent, and that's the foundation I have been
developing on ever since to build the party," said Wiranto, whose career
took off when he became Suharto's adjutant in 1989.
He rose to become military chief and defence minister.
Although he initially survived the fallout from the East Timor violence,
he was later fired as security minister by former President Abdurrahman
Wahid in 2000.
Hanura, which has been polling at around 7-11 percent support in recent
opinion polls, aimed to be one of the top five parties in parliamentary
elections in April next year and may look at forming coalitions nearer
that time, Wiranto said. (Editing by Paul Tait)
Joyo Indonesia News Service
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Retired generals seek return to power through elections
26 September 2008 - Although the Indonesian military, TNI, is
from formal politics, many retired officers have been nominated
candidates for next year’s parliamentary elections. Several
former officers with notorious human rights records among them
Prabowo and Sutyoso - have put themselves forward for the
election later in the year.
The TNI’s reluctance to relinquish
power originates from a mindset that
regards the military as the only force capable of safeguarding
country’s integrity and civilian politicians as inherently
weak. This has
disturbing implications for the process of military reform and
transition in Indonesia.
These are some of the conclusions of the headline article in
the first of a
series of monthly Election Updates to be published by TAPOL
array of retired generals that have emerged in different
The first Update also includes a background briefing on the
parliamentary system and a digest of election news.
Updates will focus on the elections in Aceh, West Papua, the
women as electors and candidates, and other key issues. Keynote
will be translated into Indonesian.
Contact Paul Barber on +44 1420 80153 or +44 774 730 1739
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