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Wednesday, May 20, 1998 Published at 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK

World: Monitoring

Wiranto sides with Suharto
image: [ General Wiranto:
General Wiranto: "These people fell prey to instigation by irresponsible people."

The Indonesian armed forces commander and Defence Minister General Wiranto said the call for President Suharto to stand down had no legal basis.

He said that the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) were proposing the establishment of a "reform council" to resolve the current crisis.

The general's remarks during a press conference were broadcast on Indonesian television.

The following is an excerpt from his speech:

'High cost of losses'

[ image: President Suharto: 32-year rule under threat]
President Suharto: 32-year rule under threat
"The recent mass destruction in the form of arson and looting by some members of the public is still fresh in our minds.

These people fell prey to instigation by irresponsible people who put personal and group interests above all else.

We can see the outcome of such acts, which are very depressing.

We have suffered not only the loss of life and materials, but will also experience the effects of such incidents for a long time.

A community, which had lost temporary control by defying religious teachings and laws, indeed had to suffer the high cost of losses.

'Potential for the outbreak of violence'

[ image: The military could now be on course for a standoff with parliament]
The military could now be on course for a standoff with parliament
Now that the flames that ravaged the government buildings, shops, and private houses, have died down, people have finished mourning their late relatives or have begged for Almighty God's forgiveness for their mistakes, a certain group of people is already planning to start a new activity by mobilizing massive mobs on Wednesday, 20th May 1998.

This massive gathering has the same risk and potential for the outbreak of violence as the recent tragic incidents we have just undergone together.

These people forget or even do not care about casualties, damage to public property, existing laws, or even the Constitution.

They are made bold by the excessive trend of freedom, which tends to disturb other people's freedom and even threaten the safety of lives, private property, and public facilities.

'Remain within existing legal confines'

[ image: The statement calling for the president to stand down]
The statement calling for the president to stand down
Therefore, as the state guardian which is consistent with its role as a stabilizing force and protector of the Constitution, ABRI urges all people to remain within the existing legal confines and not allow themselves to be instigated into committing acts which will clearly confuse the situation.

ABRI wants to remind them that a nation that does not respect its own Constitution will never enjoy stability and will even move towards destruction.

Therefore, I want to urge any group bent on instigating people to carry out anarchic acts to think it over and stop it altogether.

'Statement has no legal basis'

In this connection, ABRI is of the opinion that a statement issued by the Council of People's Representatives (DPR) leaders urging President Suharto to resign is individual in nature even though it was presented in a collective manner.

In accordance with our Constitution, such a statement has no legal basis.

A DPR resolution should be adopted by all of its members through a plenary session.

'Establishment of reform council'

[ image: Anti-Suharto demonstrators celebrate after hearing of the call for the president to resign]
Anti-Suharto demonstrators celebrate after hearing of the call for the president to resign
ABRI is still of the opinion that the government's urgent task, including the president's responsibility, is to reshuffle the cabinet, to carry a comprehensive reform, and overcome the current crisis.

This is something important to do to enable the Indonesian people to extricate itself from the current crisis.

To ensure the success of the reform, ABRI proposes the establishment of a Reform Council with members from the government and the people, especially from the campuses and outspoken critics.

This Reform Council will actively work together with the DPR. "

BBC Monitoring (, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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