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MPR ignores calls by Sukarno supporters for withdrawal of 1967 resolution

Jakarta Globe - December 12, 2012

Markus Junianto Sihaloho – The People's Consultative Assembly says a resolution it issued in 1967 stripping Sukarno of his presidency for an inability to carry out his duties is no longer considered valid, but refuses to pass a new resolution confirming this.

Hajriyanto Thohari, a deputy speaker of the assembly known as the MPR, said on Tuesday that there was a general understanding that the earlier resolution no longer applied. "That's why we don't feel it's necessary to issue a new resolution to rescind the old one," he said.

"[The resolution] is categorized as one of those resolutions that no longer require a legal response because they are considered to have run their course. If, on the other hand, we were to formally rescind it, that would spark new controversy."

He was responding to growing calls for the resolution to be officially withdrawn following the conferring of national hero status on the late Sukarno last month.

Supporters of the country's founding president say that the 1967 resolution left a deeply ingrained stigma on Sukarno's legacy, and argue that he will not be universally accepted as a national hero until the resolution is formally rescinded.

In the resolution, issued more than a year after the September 1965 coup attempt, the MPR stated that Sukarno was "no longer able to fulfill his constitutional responsibilities."

It also prohibited him from standing for public office or practicing politics, and appointed Gen. Suharto as acting president. Suharto would go on to rule the country for the next 31 years.

The resolution was widely seen as the reason the government repeatedly overlooked Sukarno in its annual national hero honors. The recognition of Sukarno at this year's ceremony came nearly 46 years after the resolution was passed in February 1967.

Among the most vocal proponents of the 1967 resolution being withdrawn is the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), an offshoot of Sukarno's own Indonesian National Party (PNI), which is chaired by the former president's daughter, Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Yasonna Laoly, the PDI-P chairman at the MPR, called for a national awareness campaign to clear any lingering doubts about Sukarno's legacy. "It's hard to understand how Bung Karno can be accused of betraying the very country that he helped found," he said, referring to Sukarno by his popular nickname.