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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

Pretenders to the Throne

The leading candidates to succeed Suharto


WHILE MEGAWATI SUKARNOPUTRI MAY take on Suharto for the presidency in 1998, hers is likely a lost cause. Of greater significance is whom Suharto chooses as his vice-president. He has yet to signal any preference and may even select a virtual unknown, but below are the names usually mentioned. None currently possesses Suharto's stature or political astuteness -- they are less contenders than pretenders -- but one could well become the next president.

THE MILITARY

Armed Forces chief Gen. Feisal Tanjung, 57. Hard-nosed, with zero tolerance for people who step out of line. His zealous crackdown of Megawati's supporters points to political aspirations, but the riots may backfire on him.

Army commander Gen. Raden Hartono, 55. Gaunt, no-nonsense tank officer from Madura, an island off Java. Close to orthodox Muslim groups. Quietly ambitious.

Brig.-Gen. Prabowo Subianto, 45. Head of a special forces unit, and a son-in-law of the president -- quite a pedigree. Savvy, resolute and handsome. Youth is against him, however, as are rivals jealous of his quick rise.

RETIRED GENERALS

Vice-President Try Sutrisno, 60. Incumbency is usually an advantage, but no veep has had a second term. Baby-faced former Suharto adjutant who can be relied on to protect the first family's interests. But support within the cabinet, the military and the government party, Golkar, is spotty. No field experience, not sharp, and too nice a guy.

Edi Sudrajat, 58, former armed forces chief, now minister for defense and security. Highly respected professional officer who avoids intrigues. Disadvantage: poor health.

Susilo Sudarman, 67, coordinating minister for politics and security. Like Sudrajat, distances himself from political games. Old ally of Suharto's, but at best a compromise choice.

Rudini, 66, onetime home minister and army boss. Now head of his own strategic analysis outfit. Agreeable sort who is acceptable to disparate groups. Outside chance.

CIVILIANS

B.J. Habibie, 60, high-profile and fast-talking minister for research and technology who is often by Suharto's side. He badly wants the job, but is distrusted by the military and disliked by some in the cabinet. Has probably reached his limit.

Harmoko, 57, information minister and chairman of Golkar. Practically worships Suharto, but the butt of jokes because of his over-eagerness to please the president.

Siti Hardyanti Rukmana, 47, better known as Tutut. The president's eldest child, leader of Golkar's central board and all-round businesswoman. Charming, but being female and a Suharto -- the nepotism would be just too blatant -- work against her. May give support to Gen. Hartono.

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