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Indonesian President Formally Re-Installs National Police Chief - 2001-08-03


Indonesia's new president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, has formally re-installed the country's national police chief, a key figure in the political struggle that brought her to power last week. But that is her only appointment so far, and there are concerns about why it is taking her so long to name a Cabinet.

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnopurti Friday re-appointed General Suroyo Bimantoro national police chief.

The general was a key figure in the power struggle between former President Abdurrahman Wahid and Parliament, which resulted in Ms. Megawati becoming president July 23.

General Bimantoro was one of several top-level military and police officials who said they would not back Mr. Wahid, if he were to declare a state of emergency to fend off an impeachment drive by lawmakers.

When he was fired, the general refused to step down, unless his dismissal was approved by Parliament. The incident was a major catalyst for lawmakers, who then voted to oust Mr. Wahid and replace him with (then) Vice President Megawati. Now, almost two weeks after a change in leadership, a government has yet to take shape. An aide to President Megawati says Indonesia's new Cabinet will be named sometime next week.

Financial markets are reacting badly, amid fears that the president may be trying to accommodate too many of Indonesia's fractious parties, keeping Indonesia mired in a political deadlock that has dragged on for months.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wahid has returned to Indonesia, after visiting the United States for a medical check-up.

Only a handful of people turned out to greet the former leader, who pledged to create a new organization dedicated to the protection of human rights and democracy.

The former leader says he still believes the Parliament and Ms. Megawati used unconstitutional means to force him from power. But aides to the former president have said he does not intend to launch a legal battle against the new administration.

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