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Tuesday, 24 July, 2001, 18:13 GMT 19:13 UK
The army as kingmaker in Indonesia
President Megawati greets National Police Chief Gen. Suroyo Bimantoro, centre, and Jakarta Police Chief Inspector General Sofjan Jacob, on her first day in office
How much will Megawati rely on the advice of others?
By Catherine Napier in Jakarta

When troops moved into place outside the palace this weekend in a show of support for the people, not the president, the Indonesian armed forces were once again key in deciding the country's destiny.

Their move, along with the police, to abandon Abdurrahman Wahid has raised fears that the military, in particular, will exercise undue influence over his successor, Megawati Sukarnoputri, and that she, in turn, will give them free rein to stamp out rebellion in Indonesia's restive provinces.

Soldiers in Jakarta
The military unambiguously backed Megawati
Juwono Sudarsono, a former defence minister under Mr Wahid, says that it is the politicians who have allowed the army to play the role of kingmaker, and only the politicians can rein the army in.

"There is widespread recognition amongst the political establishment, as well as the political public, that even in the first 22 months [since the last elections] the real power remains within the army," Mr Sudarsono said.

"The reason is very simple. The civilians have not got their act together, have not built a party system based on organised collective behaviour, and they have lacked decision-making," he added.

A decision maker?

But is President Megawati a real decision maker? Or will she rely on the advice of those who surround her?

Opinions vary greatly, but there is no doubt she has gained valuable political experience during the Wahid administration, despite her reluctance to lead the revolt against her predecessor.

In her acceptance speech to the People's Consultative Assembly, Megawati stressed the need for the country to work together to pull Indonesia out of its present crisis.

But in the long run, how many politicians can be counted on to stick by her after the honeymoon is over?

Her own party, though the largest in parliament, is full of divisions.

Difficult reform process

And the anti-corruption agenda she wants to pursue will be hard to implement with some of those who have supported her bid for office - including the former ruling party Golkar.

Faisal Basri, formerly a top official with the National Mandate Party of Amien Rais, fears for the reform process.

"The PDIP (Megawati's party) has to get support from these political parties and political elites, and Megawati, unfortunately, has no choice but to compromise, to slow down the process of rolling back cronyism as well as corruption to create political stability - meaning that political stability will be bought by Megawati by making concessions," Mr Basri said.

Nationalist agenda

But there will be no compromise from Megawati on the nationalist agenda she inherited from her father, Sukarno, the first president of the republic.

Keeping Indonesia together will be at the top of her list of priorities. Her brother Guruh Sukarnoputro says the country's future is in safe hands.

"I am happy that my sister has become the fifth president of the republic. I believe that she will do her best for this country, because I know she dedicated all her life to this country. I believe that my sister will continue in my father's steps," Guruh said.

See also:

24 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Press review: Indonesia under Megawati
24 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Indonesia's neighbours relieved
23 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
World reaches out to Megawati
23 Jul 01 | Business
Indonesian markets rise
16 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid faces early impeachment
12 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Police feud symbolic of chaos
23 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesian military holds key to power
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