Indonesia\'s Wahid Denies Involved in Financial Scandals
Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid Tuesday denied involvement in two financial scandals despite a parliamentary probe implicating him in at least one of the multi-million dollar affairs.
"I have already stated to the special commission itself in our last meeting ... that all information on this is untrue, that I am not involved in anything," Wahid told Indosiar private television.
He was speaking after a special inquiry Monday concluded he "ought to be suspected of being involved" in the affairs dubbed here Bulogate and Bruneigate -- in a move which could bring him a step closer to being impeached and put politicians on a collision course with the military.
The first scandal refers to 3.9 million dollars allegedly stolen last year from the state logistics agency, Bulog, by Wahid's masseur, Alip Agung Suwondo.
The second centers about a two million dollar donation from the Sultan of Brunei which Wahid said was a gift to be used for humanitarian assistance in troubled Aceh province. Only part of the funds have been accounted for.
A special inquiry set up by the lower house, the People's Representative Council (DPR), to investigate Wahid's role reported late Monday there were "strong indications" of Wahid's involvement in the disbursement and use of the Bulog funds, legislator Alberson Silalaho, from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), told AFP.
The lawmaker also said Wahid had been inconsistent in explaining the use of Brunei funds.
The report said the commission was "of the opinion that it ought to be suspected that President Wahid played a role in the release and use of Bulog funds" but offered no concrete evidence to prove he had ordered the release of the money.
The lower house is due to debate the findings on Thursday and should they accept them, the process would pass to the courts.
"The next step in this mechanism is for the DPR to hand the report over to the Supreme Court, so that it can try Gus Dur (Wahid's nickname) and determine whether or not he is guilty," Sihaloho told AFP.
If the court finds him guilty, "then that is grounds for calling a special session of the MPR (the national assembly), to demand accountability from the president," he added.
As the Indonesian press speculated that the mounting political crisis could end in bloodshed, after thousands of students marched on parliament Monday calling for Wahid to resign, the armed forces warned it would take control if anarchy ensued.
Defense Minister Mohammad Mahfud said Tuesday that the armed forces (TNI) could take "a one-sided action" if the military deemed that the country's politicians had "failed to lead the country."
He also warned legislators to refrain from making "decisions that would violate the constitution that could provoke the TNI" into taking over.
"Firstly, if chaos and massive anarchy ensue, the TNI will take actions because they do not want to risk this nation breaking apart.
"Secondly, if (they see) that the constitution is being violated by anyone," Mahfud told palace journalists after meeting with Wahid -- JAKARTA (AFP)
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