Wiranto (born 4 April 1947) is a retired Indonesian army General. He was Commander of the military of Indonesia from February 1998 to October 1999, and ran unsuccessfully for President of Indonesia in 2004.

He is accused by the United Nations and domestic groups of having a role in human rights violations by the Indonesian army and Jakarta-backed militias during Indonesia's withdrawal from the occupied territory of East Timor in 1999. [http://www.globalpolicy.org/intljustice/wanted/2001/wiranto2.htm]

Early life

Wiranto was born on 4 April 1947 in Yogyakarta to RS Wirowijoto, a Primary School teacher and Suwarsijah. He was the sixth out of nine children. Only one month old, Wiranto and his family moved from Yogyakarta to Boyolali near Surakarta for safety reasons as the Dutch were planning to launch an attack on Yogyakarta. [http://www.tokohindonesia.com/ensiklopedi/w/wiranto/biografi/01.shtml Wiranto Janjikan Perlindungan HAM | Biografi Tokoh Indonesia ] ] At Surakarta, Wiranto completed his primary and secondary education.

When he was a child, Wiranto had dreamt of a military career but as he grew up he developed the desire to become an architect. However, training to become an architect was not feasible financially so Wiranto decided to join the National Military Academy (AMN).

Military career

Wiranto graduated from AMN in 1968 and spent the early part of his military career in North Sulawesi, far from the centers of power in Indonesia. There he worked his way up from being a Platoon Commander to a Battalion Commander in 1982. From there he worked in the ABRI Headquarters for two years before joining Kostrad in 1985 as a Brigade Chief of Staff in East Java. In 1987, he was transferred to Jakarta where became Deputy Operations Assistant to the Kostrad Chief of Staff.

In 1989, his career had a major break when he was selected to become an Aide de Camp to President Suharto. The position of Presidential Aide de Camp was a prestigious one in the New Order regime as it became a launching pad for officers to have successful military careers. By Wiranto's own accounts, 2 Army Commanders, 3 Armed Services Chiefs of Staffs, and 2 Chiefs of Police, [cite book | last = Wiranto | title = Bersaksi Di Tengah Badai: Dari Catatan Wiranto, Jenderal Purnawirawan | publisher = Ide Indonesia | date = 2003 | location = Jakarta | pages = p. 6 | id = ISBN 979-968451-X ] had served as Presidential Aide de Camp during their career.

In 1993, Wiranto became KODAM Jaya Chief of Staff and became Commander of KODAM Jaya in 1994. Two years later, he became Commander of Kostrad and in 1997, was appointed Army Chief of Staff. At this stage of his career, it was speculated that Wiranto, together with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Agum Gumelar, AM Hendropriyono, and Farid Zainuddin were the top five officers from ABRI's secular/Nationalist "Red and White" faction. [ [http://www.kabar-irian.com/pipermail/kabar-indonesia/2003-August/000470.html [Kabar-indonesia Indo News - 8/13/03 (Part 2 of 2) ] ]

Commander of ABRI (Later TNI)

The Last Months of Suharto's Regime

Wiranto's appointment as Commander of ABRI in February 1998 came at a crucial time. Indonesia was suffering from the effects of the Asian Financial Crisis and there was widespread opposition against Suharto. Nevertheless, Suharto managed to be re-elected for a seventh term as President by the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) as the situation continued to deteriorate. In Suharto's new Cabinet, Wiranto was named as the Ministry of Defense and Security.

As the situation worsened, Wiranto tried to calm the situation down through dialogue. On 18th April 1998, together with 17 ministers, Wiranto held a meeting with prominent members of society and student organizations. [Wiranto (2003) p. 16] Wiranto took a cautious stance towards the social unrests that were brewing around Indonesia at the time and warned against it descending into anarchy.

Wiranto's involvement with the events of May 1998 began on the 12th, when he authorized Commander of KODAM Jaya Syafrie Syamsuddin and Chief of Jakarta Regional Police Hamami Nata to take care of the situation in Jakarta. [Wiranto (2003) p. 31] The next day, the 13th, was the day during which four students of Trisakti University were shot dead and Wiranto responded by ordering the Military Police. Wiranto also sensed that the condition was about to spiral out of control and ordered for reinforcements in the form of Marines and Kostrad personnel. . [Wiranto (2003) p. 55]

On 15th May, Wiranto met with Suharto who had gone to Egypt to attend an economic summit but was forced to come back to attend to the situation back home. Suharto brought up the idea of reinstating the Restoration of Security and Order Operation Command (KOPKAMTIB) to deal with the situation. Finally, on 18th May, a Presidential Instruction was issued from Suharto to Wiranto. Wiranto was to be made Commander of the National Alertness and Safety Operation Command (KOPKKN) [Wiranto (2003) p. 82] . This Presidential instruction have been compared to Supersemar [ http://www.pikiran-rakyat.com/cetak/0504/09/04.htm] . Suharto allowed Wiranto to choose whether or not he wants to use his new power and Wiranto chose not to [Wiranto (2003) p. 83] .

Finally on 21st May 1998, Suharto announced his resignation from the Presidency and Vice President BJ Habibie took over as President. Wiranto also took the opportunity that ABRI will be ensuring the personal safety of the now Former President Suharto and his family.

Habibie Presidency

Wiranto was retained as both the Commander of ABRI and Minister of Defense and Security in Habibie's Cabinet. He immediately began working towards reforming ABRI and on 11th June, gave to Habibie and Head of People's Representative Council/MPR Chairman Harmoko a manifesto entitled "The Fundamentals of ABRI's Philosophy on Reform Towards Achieving the National Goal". [Wiranto (2003) p. 99] In August, Wiranto made a move to appease the people of Aceh by withdrawing the status of Military Operations Region (DOM) from the Province.

The Special Session of the MPR was held in November 1998 and Wiranto cracked down on protesters who were against the Special Session, killing 8 and injuring 226.Wiranto (2003) p. 143] Despite this setback, Wiranto continued to build an image as a reformer. In January 1999, he met with reformist leaders and in April 1999, supervised the establishment of the Republic of Indonesia Police (POLRI) as an autonomous entity rather than subordinate to ABRI. ABRI also went through a name change and became known as TNI. Wiranto also supervised security during the 1999 Legislative Elections during which TNI and POLRI adopted a neutral role rather than support Golkar as has been the case during Suharto's regime.

As Commander of TNI, Wiranto was also involved with the withdrawal of troops from East Timor when the Province voted to become an independent nation. In the process he became accused of being behind or at least condoned the human rights abuses committed by TNI soldiers during the retreat from Timor. [http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level_English.php?cat=Politics&loid=8.0.387507550&par=0] .

1999 MPR General Session

Much like the 1999 Legislative Election, Wiranto was in charge of security at the 1999 MPR General Session. However, he would soon become involved in the politics. Habibie, who had been nominated for re-election by Golkar chose Wiranto to become his Vice President. [ [http://www.indomedia.com/bernas/9910/14/UTAMA/14uta0.htm UTAMA ] ] However, Habibie's accountability speech was rejected by the MPR and he chose not to run for President again. Nevertheless, Wiranto continued on as Vice Presidential candidate, this time with Akbar Tanjung as Golkar's Presidential candidate. However, Akbar would withdraw from the race and throw his support behind eventual President Abdurrahman Wahid. Wiranto finally withdrew from the Vice Presidential race when it became evident that Megawati needed to become Vice President to appease her supporters who were angered by Megawati losing out on the Presidency.

Political career

Wahid Presidency

As part of his effort to name a Cabinet which included all elements of Indonesian politics, Wahid included Wiranto in the Cabinet as Coordinating Minister of Politics and Security. Wiranto was only in his position for three months when in January 2000, Wahid called for Wiranto to step down from his position on an overseas trip to Europe. It appeared as if the President saw Wiranto as an obstacle to his plan to reform the military and that he took the human rights abuses allegations seriously [cite book | last = Conceicao | first = J.F | title = Indonesia's Six Years of Living Dangerously | publisher = Horizon Books | date = 2005 | location = Singapore | pages = p.18 | id = ISBN 981-05-2307-6 ] . Wiranto waited until Wahid returned before meeting with the President to argue his case. Wiranto seemed to have succeeded when Wahid decided to continue to keep him on but changed his mind during the same day and Wiranto was removed from the Cabinet.

Megawati Presidency and Human Rights Indictment

In January 2003, President Megawati was forced to raise the prices of fuel, electricity, and telephone. [http://www.kompas.com/kompas-cetak/0301/19/nasional/89059.htm] Anti-Megawati protests were then held and it was suspected that Wiranto might have been involved in masterminding the demonstrations. [ [http://www.kabar-irian.com/pipermail/kabar-indonesia/2003-February/000230.html [Kabar-indonesia Indo News - 2/09/03 (Part 1 of 2) ] ] On 24th February 2003, the East Timor Special Crimes Unit indicted Wiranto and charged him with crimes against humanity. [ [http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/04/22/indone8481.htm Indonesia: Indicted General Unfit for Presidential Bid (Human Rights Watch, 22-4-2004) ] ]

Presidential Candidate

In August 2003, Wiranto made the decision to run for President after he declared his intentions to participate in the Golkar National Convention. [http://www.kompas.com/kompas-cetak/0308/07/nasional/480103.htm] Wiranto's opponents for the Convention were Akbar, Prabowo, Aburizal Bakrie, Surya Paloh, Jusuf Kalla, Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, and Nurcolish Madjid. By April 2004, the month of the National Convention, Hamengkubuwono X and Nurcolish had withdrawn from the race whilst Kalla left Golkar to become Yudhoyono's running mate. On 20th April 2004, the Golkar National Convention was held. In the first round of voting, Wiranto came second to Akbar with 137 votes to 147 votes. [http://www.tokohindonesia.com/berita/berita/2004/capres_golkar.shtml Wiranto Capres Golkar | Berita Tokoh Indonesia ] ] In the second round, Wiranto decisively won against Akbar with 315 votes to 227 votes and became Golkar's Presidential Candidate.

As his running mate, Wiranto chose Solahuddin Wahid, the brother of former President Wahid. The selection of Solahuddin was to improve Wiranto's image with regards to human rights. According to Wiranto "Because Gus Solah (Solahuddin's nickname) is a clean figure, of course he would not associate himself with dirty goods. Especially when he's the Vice-Chairman of the National Commission for Human Rights (KOMNAS-HAM). So I'm clean." [ [http://www.tokohindonesia.com/ensiklopedi/s/salahuddin-wahid/index.shtml Salahuddin Wahid | Ensiklopedi Tokoh Indonesia ] ] In addition to Golkar, Wiranto also drew support from Wahid who mobilized both his National Awakening Party (PKB) and the Nadhlatul Ulama (NU) to Wiranto's cause. [ [http://www.indomedia.com/sripo/2004/06/24/2406uta2.htm Sriwijaya Post Online ] ]

On Election Day 5th July 2004, Wiranto and Solahuddin came third behind Yudhoyono/Kalla and Megawati/Hasyim Muzadi with 22.19% of the votes. [http://www.partai.info/pemilu2004/hasilpilpres1.htm]

Yudhoyono Presidency

In the lead up to the 2004 Golkar National Congress, Wiranto became one of the candidates for the position of Chairman. However, the situation soon changed when Kalla, now Vice President, participated in the contest to become Chairman with the support of President Yudhoyono. Wiranto was not happy because according to him, Yudhoyono would not do anything to block Wiranto from becoming Chairman. [ [http://www.tempointeraktif.com/hg/narasi/2004/12/16/nrs,20041216-01,id.html Tempointeraktif.com - Akbar Gandeng Wiranto Hadapi Jusuf Kalla ] ] Wiranto then chose to align himself with his former opponent Akbar. However the two failed and Kalla became the new Chairman.

In August 2005, Wiranto, together with former Presidents Wahid and Megawati, former Vice President Try Sutrisno, and Akbar met to discuss and criticize the policies of the Yudhoyono Government. On 1st September, they signed an official statement and called themselves the United Resurrecting Archipelago Coalition ("Koalisi Nusantara Bangkit Bersatu").

The next month in September 2005, Wiranto joined the Nationhood Union, a mass organization which was created by former Golkar member Marwah Daud Ibrahim. [ [http://www.tempointeraktif.com/hg/nasional/2005/09/20/brk,20050920-66855,id.html Tempointeraktif.com - Marwah Deklarasikan Perhimpunan Kebangsaan ] ] At the organization's National Leadership Meeting in May 2006, Wiranto said that the organization was a way to test the waters en route to forming a new political party. [http://www.kompas.com/utama/news/0605/31/174419.htm] Finally on 22nd December 2006, Wiranto declared the formation of the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) and was elected as its first Chairman. [ [http://www.tokohindonesia.com/ensiklopedi/w/wiranto/berita/02.shtml Wiranto: Deklarasi Partai Hanura (Hati Nurani Rakyat | Berita Tokoh Indonesia ] ] .

Personal life

Wiranto has beenmarried to Rugaiya Usman (Uga) since 1975. She is active in her role as, among others, Head of Indonesian Red Cross of Jakarta Chapter. The couple has three children: Lia, Maya, and Zainal. [Sriwijaya Post: "Mantan 'First Lady' Tentara" http://www.indomedia.com/sripo/2004/06/21/2106uta4.htm]


Further reading

* Honna, Jun. 2003. "Military politics and democratization in Indonesia". London: RoutledgeCurzon.
* O'Rourke, Kevin. 2002. "Reformasi: the struggle for power in post-Soeharto Indonesia". Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-754-8

External links

* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3646119.stm "Profile: General Wiranto"] , "BBC"
* [http://www.trial-ch.org/en/trial-watch/profile/db/facts/general_wiranto_234.html Trial watch: General Wiranto]


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