Wednesday, September 8, 1999 Published at 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
General Wiranto: Army leader under pressure
General Wiranto is mobbed by reporters at the State Palace in Jakarta
By Jakarta Correspondent Jonathan Head
One man straddles both of the key pillars of power in Indonesia: the defence minister and army chief of staff, General Wiranto.
As reactions to the crisis in East Timor reverberate around the world many believe it is he who holds the fate of the territory in his hands.
The man who had to manage this difficult transition was General Wiranto.
Now, with the militias running riot in East Timor, he is a man under intense pressure. He still insists, despite all the evidence, that his soldiers are not backing the paramilitaries.
So is Indonesia's army commander really in charge, or have events in East Timor slipped beyond his control?
The same question was asked of General Wiranto last year, when mass riots, backed by some elements of the military, engulfed the Indonesian capital. Back then, he skillfully restored order to preserve his position.
An intelligent but conservative officer, who rose swiftly through the ranks, the 53-year-old general owed part of his success to his loyalty to former strongman Suharto.
There are those who believe the mayhem in East Timor is yet another more serious challenge to his leadership:
"It is evident that Indonesian military and Indonesian government cannot guarantee the security in East Timor," says opposition politician Laksamana Sukardi. "In my view, it's been too late ... I mean, people have already died."
General Wiranto rarely reveals his personal views on Indonesia's chaotic transition.
He is probably opposed to letting go of East Timor. Like most officers, he spent several years serving in the territory.
But his record suggests he will be unlikely to challenge President Habibie directly over the issue.
Unless he can quickly bring his troops under control though, it may also be the issue which brings an end to his career.