Friday, May 22, 1998

Men behind the decision

ANDREAS HARSONO
The Nation

JAKARTA, Friday 22 May 1998 -- Suharto probably never dreamed that his loyal Harmoko, a former cabinet member and parliamentary speaker, and Irsyad Sudiro, parliamentarian chief of the Golkar ruling party, would give the final touch to force the ageing leader's resignation.

Their bold opposition began on Monday when Harmoko surprisingly announced that the House of Representatives had asked the Peoples Consultative Assembly, the highest state body, to conduct a special session for questions over Suharto's accountability.

However, the call was neutralised when Gen Wiranto, commander of the powerful armed forces, said the call had been made by ''individuals''.

Harmoko refused to surrender and Sudiro came to his help. Since Tuesday morning, working around the clock, Sudiro and scores of other Golkar legislators tried to find ways, including five alternatives, to ask for Suharto's resignation.

However, Suharto came out with a proposal to keep his post while organising a fresh election. The students and legislators obviously did not trust Suharto anymore.

Harmoko, Sudiro along with other legislators offered choices to Suharto on Wednesday morning when he chose to resign and let Habibie take over.

''He wants to have a constitutional process to transfer the power. We told him that we believed he is wise and sage in sacrificing for the country but that he had to resign,'' said Harmoko.

On Wednesday night Suharto made up his mind and told his closest aides and friends that he would resign yesterday morning.

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