OTHERS

Megawati hints at bid for top post

SINGAPORE, MAY 20. The Indonesian Vice-President, Ms. Megawati Sukarnoputri, today said she did not have any ambition to become President, but would follow the desires of her party to assume the country's top job.

The Vice-President's remarks come 10 days before the House of Representatives (DPR) is scheduled to meet to ask the upper House or People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) to begin impeachment proceedings against the President, Mr. Abdurrahman Wahid.

Addressing her supporters in Malang, East Java, through a video link from Jakarta, Ms. Megawati was quoted as saying: ``As mandated by the (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle; PDI-P) congress - the highest institution of the party - I was asked to be President. ``The reality is (becomes) different with this mandate (from her party). I have no ambition to become President except to implement that mandate,'' she was quoted as saying.

The Vice-President called on party members to join hands in a bid to end the continuing political and economic crisis in Indonesia. ``Before we ask other elements of the country, PDI-P members should first consolidate ourselves in helping bring the country out of the crisis... without unity it is difficult for the nation to survive the crisis,'' she said.

Ms. Megawati also rejected the suggestion that fresh elections held the key to solving the country's problems. ``Such an expedited election (polls are due in 2004) could worsen the situation and, therefore, will prolong the people's misery,'' she maintained.

The Vice-President, who returned suddenly from Singapore, held meetings with the Army brass as speculation mounted that Mr. Wahid would take some precipitate action to safeguard his position. Indonesia is rife with rumours (which have been strongly denied) that the President wants to reshuffle the military brass, who have strongly opposed Mr. Wahid's plans to dissolve the House of Representatives and impose emergency. First, the Army Chief and then the Naval Chief have spoken out against Mr. Wahid's plans to ``dissolve'' the DPR.

While the President has repeatedly denied that he plans to reshuffle the Army leadership or take any other steps to stay on in power, speculation persists about what Mr. Wahid might do in the next couple of days.