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Indonesian Party Threatens to Withdraw from Government - 2002-03-12

Officials from Indonesia's Golkar party are backing down on threats to withdraw from the government. But the fate of Golkar's embattled leader remains undecided.

Senior Golkar officials say it is best for the party to remain part of the government's decision-making process. Therefore, they will not recall their ministers from the presidential cabinet or boycott parliament. Indonesia's attorney general detained Golkar party leader Akbar Tandjung on Thursday, to investigate corruption charges against him. Golkar members responded by threatening to walk out of President Megawati Sukarnoputri's government the following day. Mr. Tandjung is accused of being involved in the diversion of $4 million in government to help finance Golkar's 1999 election campaign. Mr. Tandjung denies all charges of wrongdoing. Golkar, Indonesia's second largest party, was founded by former President Suharto. It dominated Indonesian politics for more than 30 years. But since Indonesia's democratic reform movement swept Mr. Suharto out of power in 1998, Golkar has struggled to find a new identity. Mr. Tandjung's political fate may become clearer next week. Parliament meets on Monday to decide if it should begin investigating the alleged corruption in addition to the probe already under way by the attorney general's office. Local news media report that Mr. Tandjung's support within Parliament may be eroding. Some lawmakers say Mr. Tandjung's legal problems make him a liability to the legislature and he should be removed as parliamentary speaker.