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Indonesian president urged to delegate power

Wahid and Sukarnoputri
Wahid (L) and his deputy Megawati Sukarnoputri  

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Brother clarifies statement

Cabinet reshuffle

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JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Political leaders are urging Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid to delegate more power to his deputy in a bid to defuse Indonesia's political crisis.

Power sharing could violate the constitution, but may bring an end to the political turmoil the country is facing, the speaker of parliament said Tuesday.

Meanwhile thousands of Wahid supporters are planning to hold a prayer rally in an East Java to show support to the belaguered cleric. East Java, Wahid's political heartland, has been the scene of violent protests since early this month.

The Supreme Advisory Council advised the president last week to allow Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri to take the lead in the government affairs while he focuses on his position as head of state.

Indonesia's consititution stipulates the president functions as both head of state and head of the government.

"The president and vice president could make a compromise so that the power sharing could be done without breaching the constitutional spirit," House of Representatives speaker Akbar Tandjung said.

Wahid issues a presidential decree last year to hand over the day-to-day administration to the vice president.

Brother clarifies statement

Meanwhile, the president's younger brother Salahuddin Wahid clarified his statement after The Jakarta Post quoted him as suggesting the president step aside to make way for Megawati.

"I never suggested that Gus Dur resign," he said, using Wahid's nickname. "In my opinion, the best course today is for everyone to give Gus Dur the opportunity to improve the performance of his cabinet."

"In my view there is no need to consider resignation. Such a question should only be considered when Gus Dur is called to account before the People's Consultative Assembly."

Wahid is under increasing pressure to resign after parliament censured him over his alleged involvement in two financial scandals -- the first step in a lengthy impeachment process.

Meanwhile, his supporters in his home province of East Java have been holding violent protests and attack opposition offices.

Cabinet reshuffle

However, an inside source says Wahid might resort to another cabinet reshuffle to maintain his grip on the presidency, instead of transferring more power to Megawati.

An anynomous cabinet source told The Jakarta Post that Wahid might announce the line-up of the new cabinet before or after his trip to the Middle East at the end of February.

It is likely Wahid would give Megawati more say in deciding the cabinet line-up, as well as including more members from her Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and Tandjung's Golkar Party, the source said.

PDI-P and Golkar are the two biggest parties in parliament and together they hold the majority of the parliamentary seats.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORY:
Wahid supporters attack government office

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Indonesia Government
The Jakarta Post
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