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The BBC's Simon Ingram
"It is a symbol of the chaos into which Indonesia's government has descended."
 real 28k

Thursday, 12 July, 2001, 06:50 GMT 07:50 UK
Wahid orders arrest of police chief
Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid
President Wahid is determined to stay in office
Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, who faces impeachment next month, has ordered the arrest of his police chief for refusing to resign.


I am trying to clarify what the order means

Police spokesman Major General Didi Widayadi
The police chief, General Suroyo Bimantoro, says he will not step down because the president needs approval from parliament, which has publicly backed the general.

The top legislature is due to convene on 1 August and is widely expected to impeach the president over his chaotic 20-month rule.

The order to arrest the general comes days after the president renewed a threat to call a state of emergency unless proceedings against him were dropped.

Police crisis

"The president has ordered the chief political and security minister and the caretaker police chief to take tough action... to avoid the spreading of insubordination," said presidential spokesman Adhie Massardi.

General Suroyo Bimantoro
General Bimantoro is thought to be in Singapore
"The order will take the form of an arrest."

He added that the president felt that General Bimantoro was using his troops to back a "certain political group". He did not elaborate.

Mr Wahid tried to sack the general last month after he said security forces would not enforce the president's plan to declare a state of emergency as a means of trying to avoid impeachment.

When the general refused to step down Mr Wahid then announced his appointment as ambassador to Malaysia. That order was also ignored - instead the general announced he was taking leave and is now thought to be in Singapore.

A BBC correspondent in Jakarta says the feud between President Wahid and his renegade police chief has become an apt symbol of the chaos bordering on farce into which Indonesia's Government has descended.

Bomb blast

A police spokesman said it was not clear exactly what President Wahid wanted the force to do now.

Vice President Megawati
Vice President Megawati is widely expected to be the next president
"I cannot say anything. I am trying to clarify what the order means," said national police spokesman Major General Didi Widayadi.

President Wahid has said he will dissolve parliament if a compromise is not found by 20 July - the first time he has given a deadline.

Meanwhile police said an explosion near parliament on Wednesday night appeared to be intended to create fear ahead of impeachment hearings.

At least 14 people were injured in the blast beneath a busy toll road overpass. It was the latest in a series of unexplained explosions and bombings in Jakarta.

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See also:

12 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Police feud symbolic of chaos
21 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: New hope for Indonesia?
21 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Indonesia's Islamic presidency?
31 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Indonesia's power vacuum
30 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Testing Indonesia's democracy
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