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Seven senior officers arrested in Indonesian police cleanup

Agence France Presse - July 24, 2001

Jakarta – Indonesian police authorities have arrested seven of their own senior officers and are hunting down another one in what appeared to be a clean up of the force following Abdurrahman Wahid's sacking, police said Tuesday.

The seven senior commissioners were arrested Monday on charges of trying to incite people, especially police, to obey a decree issued by Wahid in the last hours of his presidency, national police deputy spokesman Senior Commissioner Edward Aritonang told AFP. Another senior commissioner, Alfons Loemau, has been summonsed but has yet to appear, Aritonang said,

The Suara Pembaruan evening daily quoted police spokesman Inspector Generalb Didi Widayadi as saying that Loemau had been declared a fugitive and was being sought by the military police and the police intelligence unit. "It is hoped that he can be arrested this week," Widayadi said.

Aritonang said the arrest order was issued by General Suroyo Bimantoro who has refused to step down as national police chief since he was sacked by Wahid June 2. He identified the seven senior commissioners as Bambang Widodo, Parlin Sinaga, Banjar Nahor, Solikin, Herman Koto, B. Hidir and Nurdin Umar.

Wahid, battling mounting pressure to impeach him, on Monday morning issued a decree, "freezing" the lower and upper house of the parliament, freezing the opposition Golkar Party and calling for snap elections to be held within a year.

The decree also ordered the armed forces and the police to halt a special session of the upper house convened to impeach the president.

But Jakarta Police Commander Inspector General Sofyan Jacoeb immediately issued orders to his troops to disregard the decree, and Bimantoro later Sunday took over operational command of the police from the temporary police chief appointed by Wahid on Saturday.

The military and lawmakers also ignored the decree and continued their session which led to Wahid's sacking and the appointment of vice president Megawati Sukarnoputri to replace him.

Bimantoro was the first guest to meet with President Megawati on her first day in office. He was accompanied by seven other top police generals and carried the police chief's command baton which he had refused to hand over to his deputy.

Wahid, when dismissing Bimantoro on June 2, accused him of trying to create a split between him and Megawati, a charge which the then vice president had denied.