Abdul Khalik, Jakarta
The pairing of Gen. (ret) Wiranto and the cleric Solahuddin Wahid
won the all-important top spot on the ballot papers during the draw
held by the General Elections Commission (KPU).
Wiranto, born in Yogyakarta on April 4, 1947, became the
candidate of the Golkar Party after he surprisingly defeated party
leader Akbar Tandjung during the party's presidential convention.
Wiranto starts off on solid ground in the race following the
party's gains in the April 5 legislative election, when it garnered
the largest number of votes at 24.5 million, or 21.6 percent of the
total votes cast.
The ticket received a major boost when the National Awakening
Party (PKB), co-founded by Solahuddin's brother, former president
Abdurrahman Wahid, formally declared its support for the pair last
week. The PKB's main support base is Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), in which
Solahuddin is an executive; he is also a former deputy chairman of
the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM). This has led
to controversy as a commission team led by Solahuddin had tried in
vain on a number of occasions to summon former senior officers
including Wiranto, following its investigations into the riots that
preceded the resignation of president Soeharto in 1999.
Wiranto started his military career as an infantry platoon
commander upon his graduation from the Military Academy in 1968. His
postings included serving as Soeharto's adjutant in 1984, commander
of the Jakarta garrison in 1993, and Jakarta military commander in
Soeharto named Wiranto military chief in the last months of his
rule, and he kept this position under Soeharto's successor, B.J.
Habibie. The subsequent president, Abdurrahman Wahid, named Wiranto,
by then officially retired from the military, as defense minister.
Wahid then sacked Wiranto in February 2000 after a human rights
commission team found he had failed to ensure security in East
Timor. United Nations-funded prosecutors in East Timor have charged
Wiranto with command responsibility for army-backed atrocities
against independence supporters in the then-Indonesian province in
1999. An arrest warrant has been issued recently.
Solahuddin was born in Jombang, East Java, on Sept. 11, 1942. He
began his organizational career as a member of the NU's youth
movement, PMII, when he studied at the Bandung Institute of
Technology (ITB) in 1964. In 1999 he was appointed as the vice
chairman of NU in 1999.
He then became vice-chairman of the Association of Indonesian
Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI) in 2001 before taking up his post at the
rights commission in 2002.
Recently, Solahuddin was quoted as saying that he did not want to
become a mere figurehead vice president. He said that he had asked
Wiranto and Golkar prior to his joining the Wiranto ticket to give
him a special assignments so as to ensure the realization of the
pairing's campaign promises of improving law enforcement and human
rights, and eradicating of corruption.