Indonesia: Election spotlight on Subianto army discharge
Documents leaked onto internet contain recommendation that Prabowo Subianto be dismissed from military.
Prabowo Subianto's presidential election campaign has been rocked by allegations surrounding his discharge from the Indonesian armed forces nearly 16 years ago, which may have been anything but honorable.
Subianto faces off against rival candidate Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in a debate Sunday to discuss international affairs and national security - their third televised affair just weeks ahead of the July 9 election.
Prior to this week's allegations, polls in the world's most populous Muslim nation had suggested that Subianto - who headed Indonesia's oppressive special forces under General Suharto 16 years ago - was closing in on Jokowi, but then documents were leaked onto the internet from 1998 that contained military council recommendations he be dismissed from the military.
The allegations are not new, the United States even refusing a visa to Subianto in the past on suspected human rights grounds, but the timing of the leak couldn't have aroused more suspicion.
Former military chief General Wiranto - the chairman of the Hanura party, which is backing Jokowi - told a press conference Thursday that the documents illustrate that Subianto had not just been involved in the willful abduction of pro-democracy activists, he had deliberately misinterpreted orders, telling soldiers who weren't under his command to also arrest them.
The council document shows, he said, that Subianto's "actions tend towards a habit of neglecting systems of operations, hierarchy," law and discipline.
"Such action was deemed as a violation of military rules and several articles of the Criminal Law," he added.
Wiranto tried to underline that he was not politicking in his announcement, saying "as a Muslim," it's his duty to straighten out something incorrect, and "as a former soldier," to defend truth and justice.
"With such fact, there is no need to argue on the status of his dismissal. Let the people judge for themselves," he said.
Edhy Prabowo, the director of operations in Subianto's bid, insisted that the former general was just following orders in his actions, and that his discharge was honorable - the proof, he said, is in that Subianto is still receiving his military pension.
Military discharges can be modified by a court of law, but under almost all circumstances retirement benefits are disallowed.
He referred to the allegations detailed in the report as "intelligence operations."
"At that time, the country was in a precarious state. Something had to be done; action taken," he said.
The Subianto campaign has reported Wiranto to the Election Supervisory Body, claiming that he "was" politicking and alleging the release of such information is part of a dirty - "Black" - campaign.
Wiranto has denied being the leak of the document, and has said he suspects a former military general was involved.
Kivlan Zein - the army's former chief of staff and member of Subianto's team - has said that the letterhead states that valid state secrets can only be opened after 40 years.
"Wiranto should be arrested and should apologize to the public," he said in an interview with TV One.
For months, polls put Jokowi - the popular governor of Jakarta - well ahead, but the latest suggest the difference between the two candidates is even closer than the 6-7 percentage points the latest surveys show.
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