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Wiranto rejects probe of Suharto as divisive

Dow Jones Newswires - May 22, 1998

Jakarta – After pledging that his forces would protect ex-President Suharto and his family, powerful military chief Gen. Wiranto Friday rejected calls for an investigation into the former leader's wealth.

Since Suharto resigned Thursday, student protesters and other opponents have called for an inquiry into the fortune amassed by the Suharto clan during his 32-year rule.

It's been claimed that Suharto and his children used a web of state subsidies, monopolies and cartels to make billions.

However, Wiranto said an investigation would only add to national disunity during Indonesia's political and economic crisis.

"Let's leave it behind us," he said to reporters.

"There are more important things to do. This country needs stability to get out of its crisis. Just because a few people cry out for investigation, it does not mean we have to do it."

Earlier, Wiranto was retained as defense minister in a Cabinet lineup announced by Suharto's successor President B.J. Habibie.

The military under Wiranto have played a crucial role in the crisis. He ordered thousands of troops and dozens of tanks onto the streets of Jakarta earlier this week to stop anti-Suharto protests.

After Habibie was sworn in Thursday, Wiranto, a former personal aide to Suharto, said he would protect the former leader and his family.

By Friday night, many troops had gone back to barracks. However, squads of soldiers and armored vehicles were still positioned near strategic locations in the capital, including the presidential palace, the national monument and Suharto's home.