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INDONESIA: GENERAL WIRANTO APOLOGISES FOR VIOLENCE

   
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Indonesian/Nat Indonesian defence chief, General Wiranto has made a public apology to the victims of brutal crackdowns by the security forces. Less than a week after Indonesia gained a new president, Wiranto is urging for reform within the country's security forces in an attempt to overcome divisions between the military and civilians. Wiranto had been considered a top candidate for vice presidency until he dropped out shortly before Megawati Sukarnoputri was elected to the number 2 post last Thursday. It's widely speculated that the current Army chief may lose his position when the new President, Abdurrahman Wahid, announces his new Cabinet in the next few days. Wiranto on Monday addressed some 10-thousand soldiers and riot police who gathered in a soccer stadium about 5-hundred metres from the Indonesian parliament. Indonesian security forces were brought into Jakarta to safeguard the assembly as it held its first free and open session. The same security forces have been involved in several clashes with protestors, largely students, that left several people dead and dozens injured. Dressed in fatigues, Wiranto who like many Indonesians uses only one name, called for internal reform within the military and the police force and said they must join together with the people to work toward developing poverty-stricken Indonesia. He also said divisions between the military and the people must be overcome. UPSOUND: (Indonesian) "If leaders and those below (followers) were to become one, they would choose morality." SUPER CAPTION: General Wiranto, Armed Forces Chief The powerful military has long had strong influence in the political process, influence that critics have consistently asked to curtailed. In addition to violence against protesters, the military has been blamed for supporting pro-Jakarta militias that went on a rampage in East Timor after the territory voted to break away from Indonesia. Wiranto told the security forces, including about 20 generals, to pray for the victims of Indonesia's recent violent history and ask forgiveness. SOUNDBITE: (Indonesian) "On behalf of the T-N-I (Indonesian military) and POLRI (Indonesian police), I apologise to all of the people who suffered losses for what happened in the past." SUPER CAPTION: General Wiranto, Armed Forces Chief Wiranto's speech followed along the lines of Wahid's policy speech on Wednesday, his first since his election. The new president outlined a long list of democratic and human rights reforms for Indonesia hoping that the initiatives will bring about a renewed sense of nationalism in "Indonesia Baru" - the "New Indonesia". Wiranto himself may be on his last legs as one of Indonesia's most powerful player in the political arena. There is speculation that he may not retain his post when the new President, Abdurrahman Wahid, announces his new Cabinet in the next few days. SOUNDBITE: (Indonesian) "We will wait. It's the president's prerogative. I think they will select someone suitable for the job, trusted by the president, who can best assist him in the next cabinet." SUPER CAPTION: General Wiranto, Armed Forces Chief It is unclear what Wiranto himself will do if he loses his portfolio. Many think he will enter politics as a civilian. Wiranto has been touted as a special adviser to Wahid on military issues, with Navy chief of staff Achmad Sutjipto mentioned as his possible successor as defence chief. You can license this story through AP Archive:

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