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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 May, 2004, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
Major party endorses Wiranto bid
General Wiranto
General Wiranto is the Golkar Party's official candidate
Indonesia's controversial presidential candidate General Wiranto has won the backing of the National Awakening Party of former President Abdurrahman Wahid.

The party came third in recent legislative elections, and its backing is a big lift for Gen Wiranto and his Golkar party ahead of the 5 July poll.

Gen Wiranto is running despite being indicted by UN-backed prosecutors for alleged war crimes in East Timor.

Mr Wahid himself is unable to stand as a candidate because of health problems.

Gen Wiranto's running mate is Mr Wahid's younger brother, Salahuddin Wahid, who is also the deputy of Indonesia's top human rights body.

President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, former security chief (archive picture)
Wiranto will face President Megawati and her former security chief
"We've reached a decision to back Salahuddin Wahid as a vice presidential candidate from PKB ( the National Awakening Party) in a ticket with Wiranto. PKB needs someone in the race," Abdurrahman Wahid told reporters.

But the former president added that, if he succeeded in a legal challenge against his disqualification from the presidential race, his party would withdraw its support for the general.

Asked what kind of positions PKB would get in return for its endorsement of Gen Wiranto, party official Arifin Junaidi told Reuters news agency: "We want a balance in the government and we want a binding agreement."

Gen Wiranto is the official candidate for Golkar, the party which won most seats in April's legislative elections. PKB won 10% of the votes.

The frontrunner in the presidential race is former chief security minister and ex-general, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Current President Megawati Sukarnoputri is also standing.

Controversial general

Gen Wiranto's presidential bid is already making waves, both in Indonesia and abroad.

He has been charged by a UN-backed tribunal of command responsibility for the 1999 violence in East Timor, in the aftermath of its vote to split from Jakarta.

Gen Wiranto was head of the armed forces and defence minister of Indonesia at the time.

But the government of East Timor has done everything in its power to distance itself from the charges against the general, according to our correspondent in Jakarta, Rachel Harvey.

Last week, chief prosecutor Longuinhos Monteiro said it would not be in East Timor's interest to forward the arrest warrant to Interpol.

There are reports that Gen Wiranto will meet East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao this weekend to discuss the situation.

An aide for Gen Wiranto said: "We are trying to set the meeting for the 29th in Bali, and so far both sides have agreed."


SEE ALSO:
Arrest warrant for Jakarta general
10 May 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: General Wiranto
21 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Blow to Megawati re-election bid
19 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia's packed election year
19 Jan 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Indonesia
13 Nov 03  |  Country profiles


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